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New visitor: Questions about Migraine/Anxiety

  • By Bryan3000

    Hi all,

    I hope this finds you well, and that this forum is providing relief and answers to move past the issues this condition brings.

    Basically, I wanted to just give a quick background and hopefully get a little feedback or advice regarding what’s going on, and basically just gain a little education here.

    I’m fairly sure most of my headaches are migraines. (I have had visual aura on some, but mostly not.) They come on slowly, generally feel centered around the front of my head. I also get neck soreness/stiffness. I also feel like sometimes my nose will be a little stuffed or swollen, generally on one side. I can have facial tenderness.
    I think it’s for these reasons I initially called them “sinus headaches” …. despite having no proof of that. These can last for 12-48 hours… and always come with a sick feeling. The headache itself can be bad, but it generally tops out at a 7 or 8 on a scale of 10. But the other symptoms are many. Nausea, a general sick feeling, chills at times, shakiness and heightened anxiety and sometimes panic. (More on that in a minute.) My diet is consistent. If anything, I feel like these come at times when I’ve been more stressed and things are slowing down. There is no obvious trigger, though. My mom gets migraines, aura often.

    So, while I can’t be sure… at least some of these headaches seem like migraines? I don’t match the symptoms for other headaches as well.

    So, its a really long story but essentially I started having the headaches back in 2010 during a stressful time. (Which I didn’t know was stressful.) But, it came with all of the other symptoms so I thought I was actually sick. As it kept happening every few days or weeks, I got more concerned. I started to worry more… which led to some mild anxiety. (looking back.) Finally, a doctor gave me a bunch of meds at once which sent me into pure panic and I ended up in the ER. This sparked off a full fledged anxiety/panic disorder… for which they tried me on meds which made it worse, and I had a 18 month withdrawal period from benzo meds they rx’d me.

    So, I have started anxiety therapy a couple years ago. I’ve gotten on with my life. The panic and anxiety still remains with me daily, but it’s better. My average day is improving. The headaches can come and go. They were actually gone for quite a while before returning recently with more consistency. I finally put 2+2 together to realize… these migraines certainly seem to be tied into my panic/anxiety. In fact, like today… I had little or no panic… and when the headache started, I felt it physically ramp up. I don’t think it’s all in my mind, either… as in just worry…. it physically feels like it affects my body. I feel shaky, more nervous, etc. These can also happen in the middle of my sleep and wake me up with severe headache, and all of the sick symptoms.

    I have some mild light sensitivity and other sx that are common. But I have to say, my migraines (?) don’t sound exactly like most people’s I read about.

    In any case, sorry for the novel. I’m just wondering if any part of this story resonates with anyone… anything they’ve gone through or heard? Any advice on management, physically or even psychologically.
    I’m also curious if anyone has a strong feeling if these are indeed migraines because I am frankly nowhere near as educated on them as you all I’m sure… as it’s more just recently that it’s become clear that may be what they are. And hence, I’m wondering how they are affecting my nervous system condition. (Anxiety.)
    (I’ve also been through the mild MVP diagnosis and had IBS at times in life but no real panic disorder until a few years ago at age 41.) I also wonder at times which was the chicken and the egg for me?

    Thanks for reading… and I truly appreciate any input. Have a great holiday weekend.

    B

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  • By Bryan3000

    Sorry, I guess I should mention meds…

    I take a low dose of atenolol (beta blocker) to keep rapid heartbeat and anxiety sx more in control. (Very low, as in 25 mg or less per day.)

    Tylenol doesn’t seem to do too much for them and I can’t take anything like advil because of my stomach.

    Speaking of stomach, my headaches can also come with some lower GI distress as well. (More active bowels, etc.)
    It feels like it’s part of the nervous sx, but does come along with the headache package.

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  • By The Migraine Girl Moderator

    bryan3000,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to introduce yourself and to explain your history with such honesty.

    The first step to getting targeted medical care is to get an official diagnosis. I’m not a doctor, and none of us here can of course diagnose you via the internet. Now that I’ve established that disclaimer, I will say that, based on my knowledge of migraine, it certainly does sound to me like you are likely a migraineur whose attacks are triggered and/or exacerbated by anxiety/stress.

    I would like to strongly suggest that you seek the assistance of a migraine specialist. Here’s a great article that gives some tips on how you know when it’s time to find a specialist, what a specialist does (and how he/she is different from a “regular” doctor), etc.

    https://migraine.com/blog/making-decision-see-headache-specialist/

    You definitely have LOTS of other people here on Migraine.com (readers and contributors alike!) who have many symptoms that echo yours, from the GI distress to the anxiety to the sometimes-aura to the stuffiness in the nose at times.

    Once you get formally diagnosed with whatever this is (possibly migraine!), you and your healthcare provider(s) can figure out an approach that helps you start feeling a little better. I know that, for me and many others, working on stress and anxiety management helped with anxiety and migraine frequency and severity. Here’s an article you might get some good information from (and there are several more like that on the site if you poke around more!): https://migraine.com/blog/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction/

    Let us know how you’re doing, and thanks so much for sharing your story. I’ll be thinking of you!

    Take care,
    Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

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  • By Bryan3000

    Thank you so much, Janet. I will indeed check out the links and greatly appreciate your input. It’s such a confounding condition(s) for me… it’s just nice to put a little logic to some of it so I can make some progress.

    I really appreciate your input…

    Bryan

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  • By RachelRoo

    Hi Bryan!

    I’m new to this forum but your story resonated with me. I’d also recommend seeing someone for your migraines. I’ve had mine since I was very young. I’ve also had anxiety disorder since I was pretty young, I know sometimes these issues can go together. In addition, these days getting a migraine can give me anxiety and sometimes a full blown panic attack. That vicious mental cycle of “Oh god another headache how long will it last? I have so much to do I don’t have time for this! I feel so guilty, I haven’t finished X chore/spent time with my kid/etc etc” and then my breathing speeds up and muscles besides the ones associated with the headache tense and I have even more nausea. Yuck!

    So for me, along with my ‘headache plan’ I have an anxiety plan that includes activities to try to lower stress and sometimes an anti-anxiety medication to pair with my headache abortive if it is getting bad. You’re not alone!

    Good luck!

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