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Raging anxiety as a migraine symptom?

  • By kmripple

    Hello!
    Would like to hear from others if anxiety is a part of their migraine symptoms. I used to get into these cycles every two years and thought what I had was anxiety and panic disorder. Those cycles usually sorted themselves out after several months and then I would feel pretty good until the next cycle started, about two years later. To make a really long story short, last cycle was anything but short. Lasted about two years, and ended… close to two years ago. I take preventive medication every day, have some abortive injections in case I need them, and have mostly resumed my life. But now, again, I am getting these anxiety spells. I’ll feel a bit “off”, like I am looking at myself from the outside (which is pretty common for me and doesn’t freak me out), my head tingles, and then wham! I just get this horrible anxious feeling. I also tend to feel a little unsteady/spinny but nothing like I have had in the past. Headache is not really prominent, don’t think it has gone over a 3. I’ve had probably five of these spells today. In the past the spells have just gotten to the point where there is really no end to them. I was talking to my husband today and he said that although the symptoms are different, to him I look, sound and behave the same way I do when I have a migraine.

    I know it is probably too early to sound the alarm bells with the neuro, but don’t know how long I should wait before calling to tell him that I am having these symptoms again and I might be looking at the start of another hellish cycle (which would hopefully be much better given what he and I learned then and since). Or if I should go to the psychiatrist to get anxiety meds to calm me down. I would like your input because I am kind of scared here.

    Sorry for the ramble.

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi kmripple,

    I’m sorry you are having a rough time – migraine is miserable to say the least. I can tell you that anxiety and depression can be part of a migraine attack AND comorbid conditions. A comorbid condition, like migraine, is one that can occur at the same time as other conditions. Some of these conditions are more likely to be found together such as anxiety and depression. Here is information on this topic;
    https://migraine.com/blog/what-is-a-comorbid-condition-a-bulleted-list-for-patients/ and https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-comorbidities-anxiety/.

    Seeing as you are pretty concerned about this, I suggest contacting the doctor and discuss things with him. It’s always a good idea when we are worried about things and if a new plan is needed you can come up with one together.

    Nancy

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  • By littleb15

    Dear km ripple,

    I can definitely sympathize with you and the cyclical anxiety bouts. I, too, suffer from cyclical anxiety bouts – mine run in cycles of 3 years. My general doctor told me that I would probably suffer with this the remainder of my life. The worst of of my anxiety lasts for 1-2 months and then seems to subside. I see my general doctor and have been on an anti-depressant that helps the anxiety too. It happens to help with my migraines also. I also saw a counselor for several months during a really bad bout of anxiety which helped tremendously. I’ve suffered with migraines since the early 1990s, which was about the same time as my anxiety and panic attacks started, but I was also dealing with many things in my life. So I cannot say with any certainty that anxiety is a migraine symptom. Anxiety is something I’ve learned to live with under my doctors care, counseling, and the Good Lord’s hand. I hope this helps. I know when I read these blogs, it’s just good to know that someone else experiences the same things I do.

    I agree with Nancy, see your doctor, and maybe some counseling if you feel that is right for you. Counseling showed me how to better handle the anxiety. Hang in there!

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  • By Camassia

    I have a long history with anxiety/panic attacks and four months ago got diagnosed with migraine. I’ll never know whether the previous anxiety related sxs were migraine or not. I do feel very anxious/irritable during migraine attacks but I noticed that I react to heightened anxiety to every small change in my body that could be or could lead to an attack, which is more like health anxiety/panic disorder, that I have a history of. I think for me the most important is to manage anxiety whether it is from migraine or a comorbid condition as doing so may help both. I think in your situation reaching out to professionals might be a good idea if this could help relieve your worries.

    I wanted to link in an article I read on Medscape but unfortunately the system won’t let me without being a member. The title is Panic Disorder and Migraine Potential Mechanisms of Comorbidity. Maybe you’d be able to read it once if you searched for the title. I found it very interesting to learn that fearing migraine attacks (panic disorder) can actually manifest migraine symptoms.

    I really hope you can stop worrying about this very soon. 🙂

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  • By kmripple

    Hi all,
    Thank you so much for your replies. I am still getting the raging anxiety attacks. I still have some Xanax which I have taken to calm down. After reading about Bam’s cyclical bouts of anxiety, and how these are comorbid conditions, I’ve decided to call my former psychiatrist, who I consider one of the best to have treated me througout the years, and go see him first. I will also contact my neuro and tell him about what is going on. Camassia, I will look for the Medscape article and see if I can access it.

    Thank you so much everyone. I really appreciate your support and thoughts. I can see this a bit more objectively now. There are some major changes coming to my workplace at the end of February and I think this is making me wig out, which probably could precipitate or worsen an anxiety bout that is waiting to rear its ugly head.

    Again, thank you sooooo much.

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