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Mood Disorders and Migraine

Posted on November 13, 2019

“I suffer from depression and anxiety with my migraines. I'm also bipolar, so it's difficult to pinpoint where it all lies, you know?”
- A MyMigraineTeam member

“I suffer from migraines and now I found out after being hospitalized I have PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and MDD [major depressive disorder].”
- A MyMigraineTeam member

If you are living with a mood disorder as well as migraines, you are not alone. Many MyMigraineTeam members have shared their struggles with mood disorders as well as painful, debilitating migraines. Migraine and mood disorders seem to go hand-in-hand for some people.

According to an article published by the American Migraine Foundation, mood-related problems such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD are common in people who get headaches. Another article published by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) points out that people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic attacks often have migraine too. The AADA article goes on to state that migraine precedes the onset of mental disorders in some people.

For many, migraines and mood disorders are a chicken-and-egg problem. Anxiety may trigger a headache, which may in turn lead to depression - or vice versa. “I suffer from depression and anxiety, which can be made worse by my migraines,” wrote one member. “My depression also worsened from my migraines because I was in lots of pain.” Another member said, “I suffer with stress/anxiety and they definitely are my nemesis where migraine cause is concerned.”

Even if a headache doesn’t occur, migraine can feed into mood disorders. “You get anxious trying to plan or go anywhere, so then the depression starts because of how much a migraine keeps you from experiencing life,” said one MyMigraineTeam member. Another agreed, writing, “Especially the anxiety, it's awful. I'm afraid to go anywhere because of my migraines. So, I stay home and hide from everything and everyone - thus the depression!!”

Treating mood disorders with medication has helped some MyMigraineTeam members. “[I’m] better now that I am on a med for depression that works,” said one member. “Neurologist said they go hand in hand.” However, some members noticed that medications for mood disorders - especially Trazodone - seem to make their migraines worse. “My psychiatrist [prescribed] a new med for my PTSD and it gave me a bad headache. I was [prescribed] Trazodone, but that too gave me a headache. What can I take to help me sleep that doesn't get me a headache???” The key lies in finding a medication that is effective but safe for those with migraine.

MyMigraineTeam members share steps they’ve taken that help them cope with mood disorders:

  • Finding the right medication - “I [was prescribed] Lithium and took the lowest doses which changed my life!”
  • Psychotherapy - “I see a professional for counseling.”
  • Support groups - “I go to group meetings.”
  • Pets - “When I'm feeling so depressed or like the anxiety is going to get out of control, my daughter's dog helps me so much.”
  • Boundaries with unsupportive people - “I limit visits with family that refuse to understand depression no matter how many documents and websites I provide.”

Having a mood disorder as well as migraines can be a hard road, but you’re not alone as you walk it. One member wrote, “My new [doctor] said to me today, ‘Why wouldn't you be depressed? What you're going through is hard.’ So validating! I wanted to share that, hoping it helps everybody know what warriors we really are.”

Here are some conversations about mood disorders and migraine:

Here are some question-and-answer exchanges about mood disorders and migraine:

Are you living with a mood disorder as well as migraines? What has worked to help you cope? Share below or post on MyMigraineTeam.

Posted on November 13, 2019
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