Migraines and depression can not be taken lightly. Depression can lead to suicide and with the added pain and life altering impacts from migraine, it has the potential to make it worse. Please get professional help now if you feel that down.
Don't let them keep you down.
If you are struggling, and that's why you're here... here are some ideas that should help and one process you can do right now to help stabilize your overwhelming emotions.
See your local doctor. If you can't wait that long an online pain counseling session can help fast and your local Lifeline office is an excellent resource for you to have.
If you can wait or prefer face to face, ask your primary care physician who they would recommend for long term support.
Check out the local community center as most times Counselors volunteer there for free or a minimal donation. Have a look around your library for a business card, ask some friends, and yes - Google search in your area. You might find a support group that you can attend when you are able to.
I think it is really important to form a support network when you are dealing with chronic migraines and depression.
What do I know about migraines and depression? Here's a little bit of my story...
I was told that I was depressed before I got migraines. That I only had migraines because I was depressed. But I can assure you that the pain, misunderstandings and impacts of having chronic migraines came first and the depression followed.
I got severely depressed after about 8 years of having chronic migraines 20 days every month. That's not too bad actually considering I did not find any effective pain medications, nor did I find support.
After about 4 years my relationship crumbled, I changed jobs down to part time, and then 2 days a week. I had to move somewhere cheaper. My friends did not understand and drifted away thinking I just didn't want to participate in things with them. Everything I once knew disappeared.
There is a stigma associated with migraines, and it still lingers... the pain is imagined - it's just a bad headache. It is still misunderstood and very underrated. It is under treated. Half of us migraine sufferers are not getting effective treatment. Why? Who knows really, but do you dismiss them as just a headache?
What I do know is that it is easy to find yourself feeling depressed if you suffer from recurring migraine attacks over along period of time. This is a lifelong condition. Migraines and depression often go hand in hand and they need to be taken seriously.
The suicide rate is higher in individuals with migraines, so if you are feeling depressed - please do not wait to get help. Ignoring a chronic illness like migraines and depression could escalate into severe depression.
I highly recommend finding a good counselor or psychologist. Dealing with migraines and depression is not easy. Good friends help too, but I prefer to leave the heavy stuff for the professionals.
Click here to get started looking for a good online counselor and click here for my migraine pain management course to help you find the best way to relieve migraines and learn the essential timing required to abort an attack.
Now... let me
share this process to help you feel a little better despite having migraines
One way to deal with migraines and depression is to keep a journal. It is beneficial to express your emotions, but the strong emotions from intense physical pain may be too strong for others to bear.
It is best to process some of it with yourself.
Plus some things you just don't want to say to or share with other people. Especially those you love. I can recommend writing a letter to yourself, or more specifically, your migraines.
This letter below is inspired by the work of Barbara De Angelis, PhD. Her technique deals with all six levels involved in healing anger. Barbara De Angelis says that each level has two feelings associated with it.
You may require some space to write your answers down, so feel free to start a migraine journal. I also recommend shredding the journal when you are done with it so no one sees it. This process is just for you and no one else. Also – I believe - it’s not good to keep that negative energy in your house.
Here are some of my own examples, there is a blank form in the course or you can print this page out (just copy and paste into a word doc).
The anger level deals with blame and resentment. Write as many sentences as you can that start out with this statement:
Migraine, I blame you for the loss of my career and the struggles I have each day trying to make ends meet financially.
Migraine, I resent you for taking all of this away from me without even an option to choose something else in my life. You are a destroyer.
The hurt layer deals with sadness and disappointment. Write as many sentences as you can that start out with this statement:
Migraine - you make me sad when you keep coming back to inflict your pain on me. It’s too much and it’s too often.
And then do migraine, you disappoint me when you don’t listen to my plea’s to go away and leave me alone.
The fear layer deals with insecurity and wounds. Write as many sentences as you can that start out with this statement:
Migraine I feel insecure when you constantly destroy my earning capacity.
and migraine, you wound me when you take away my happiness, my friendships, and my inner joy. You take everything from me migraine and I hate you for it.
Now it’s time to work toward a solution. This is a very important step to start to deal with the feelings of regret, understanding and responsibility. I am not talking about a solution to the actual medical condition of migraine. We both know there is no cure, only relief.
So what I am referring to here are your feelings around the disruption migraine brings into your life. So – having said that - write as many sentences as you can that start out with this statement:
Migraine I understand the situation as a medical condition that could possibly be from my own over excitement and over reactions to things. I also understand it could be worse – you could have killed me by now and I would have missed out on some really lovely and loving things in life.
and migraine I feel responsible when you take me out of
commission and I miss work, or miss things I am looking forward to. I
feel responsible for myself – my mental well-being – my financial
well-being - my social well-being - and you take that all away but I am
still responsible for me.
The intention layer deals with solutions and wishes. Knowing there is no cure but possibly a solution to how you might treat yourself from now on. Write as many sentences as you can that start out with this statement:
Migraine I feel a solution might be for you to go away. That is the only solution I see and I know you cannot.
and migraine I wish I could find my answer in healing you
so that I can get back to my healthy happy active life instead of this
isolated pain filled existence.
This may possibly be the hardest layer work with. The love layer deals with forgiveness and appreciation. Write as many sentences as you can that start out with this statement:
Migraine I forgive you for destroying my life, the dream
life I now hold only in my mind. I forgive you for migraines and
depression, as if migraines aren't hard enough.
And migraine I appreciate the fact that you make me stop
sometimes and slow down enough to appreciate life and the little things I
do have. I watch others speed through their lives, and I actually
appreciate that fact that I can stop and think and learn to love myself
regardless of whether I have migraines or not. You don’t make me a
horrible person, you just present me with a horrible experience. Having
you in my life has forced me to become more aware and conscious of what
I do and eat and say.
So the idea is to work through each emotion thoroughly.
It can take more than one time, or one each as I have shown you above so feel free to write as much and as often as you wish.
Remember do not show this letter to anyone. This is just for you to help you process your emotions. Working through the layers with migraines and depression might be more than others can handle or understand.
If you feel like showing some one, I can only suggest waiting a week and reading it again to make sure it still feels right. Sometimes you can be more real when you know it’s private. It is totally up to you.
Every time you write to yourself instead of getting angry or depressed, you are reprogramming your brain to react differently and creating a cognitive behavior modification. The goal is for your brain to eventually process all these emotions by itself, and you will no longer have to write the letters to yourself, unless you start to enjoy it that is.
So this is where the behavioral modifications gets interesting in dealing effectively with migraines and depression.
Here are 3 ways you can educate yourself in this area. Millions of people suffer from depression, and just about every body, at some time in their life, will experience it at least once.
Here's what you can do right now... check out the free parts...
Get Help. You are worth it. Don't suffer one minute longer than you have to.
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Depression over Daily Migraines by SH (Israel)
I have been reading your blog for 2 days now. In my very depressed state I am searching for any cure for my headaches and migraines. I have decided to seek help from the internet. I have had migraines since I was 12. I am 33 years old now, meaning more than 20 years of suffering. The past 3 years or so my migraine headaches have been daily. I take Imitrex on a daily basis and it helps, it completely eliminates my pain, but I fear it destroys the body. I also feel that this triptan is addictive. Totally addictive. I think it has made my situation worse. I was considering trying 1-2-3 approach of Dr. David Buchholz, but he says to throw away all pain relievers - including of course - my Sumatriptan. What shall I do then? I will have migraines every day?
Migraines and Depression and Anti-depressant experiences by Alan
Hi Sagi, I just wanted to respond to your story. I only get occasional migraines, but I have tried several anti-depressants for them and have learned that I am unable to tolerate most antidepressants and suffer from extreme side effects.
About the same time I also found I have several severe food allergies to dairy and wheat which, after I eliminated them from my diet I saw the deep depression they caused - subside. I would never have known otherwise.
I'd like to suggest that you check out food allergies as well, but not with a mainstream lab, since those tests are worthless. I live in the US, so see what is available where you live. I’ve used Aller-Check by Elisa – it’s their whole blood specimen collection kit by US Biotek Laboratories which some doctors can provide here. It just has a simple blood test with a card that you mail in.
I’ve had some horrible side effects from antidepressants – so I share a suggestion of using caution. I have also been told that antidepressants deplete the body of B vitamins and other nutrients, which doesn't help either. I have a bottle of no-flush niacin (500 mg) and take it when I feel a low mood setting in, and in about an hour, the depressed mood lifts. My Orthomolecular Doctor said that the dose can be increased to 3000 mgs without harm to the body and that the excess is excreted in urine.
Also never stop antidepressants abruptly after you are taking them. Wean your self off slowly. As I said the side effects were quite extreme for me.
Another thing I found to help was fish oil. Oh – and keep a journal of some kind. I kept a list of what supplements and drugs I was taking, in what dose, and what reaction I had over the next few days, and if I lasted, over weeks.
Sometimes it takes a while to find what works.
Hang in there, it takes time, and I hope you'll feel better soon.
No wonder you feel depressed and overwhelmed by migraines and depression by Holly
I would never "throw away" my Naramig for all the money in China!!! I hope you have a good doctor that knows migraines to walk through all of this with you. Does your doctor say to go off the Triptan for a short time? Perhaps just going off them for a short time - if you say you are addicted - might be a good thing. What happened three years ago to make them daily?
I could recommend this page if it helps: Taking Medications for Migraines: What You Need to Know and perhaps - do you meditate? I used to meditate the pain away (14 years) before I found a pain killer that worked.
Having migraines and depression can put you in a really difficult situation. Please keep me posted - if you like. All I can do is listen. Are there migraine clinics or specialists where you live?
What else have you tried up to now? Have you tried SAM-e or Inositol for the depression? They are natural supplements. Check these options with your doctor first... always use your doctors guidance over the internet.
Hang in there Sagi. Migraines are a hard journey. Migraines and depression... even harder.
Daily Migraine and Triptan Addiction by Sagi
I take Imitrex - it does help. It always has. I have been taking 50mg of Imitrex since 2006, I think, or late 2005. At first, these migraines of mine weren't that bad. I would only get them twice a month, sometimes maybe a bit more often. During the last few years things have gotten worse – my body has spiraled into a cycle of migraines and Imitrex - that's what it does. I think that is why my doctors warn about using triptans too much.
Nothing too special happened 3 years ago. I think it’s more because I started using Imitrex even for slight headaches. Of course "slight" is relevant because all my slight migraines eventually develop into a severe one.
My first migraine I can still vividly recall. It was on the last day of 5th or 6th grade. I was 11, I think. I had a headache, and I threw up. Later my mom took me to a class party; it was just before the summer vacation.
I have to admit that only during the last 7 years or so – since I started using Imitrex – things have gotten worse. In 2005, for example, I went to the USA for 3.5 months. Over there I worked and traveled. I was 26. There was no Imitrex back then. These days, Imitrex is with me everywhere I go – but it has got to stop! I just can't take this every day. I have to stop this horrific cycle of aches and pain killers. All doctors say and I admit that I am using too many pain killers, of any kind, especially Triptans, which can worsen the nature of the migraines.
My migraines are without aura. The pain can be consistent or throbbing. MRI and Cat-scan found nothing. Sinuses check found nothing. I have tried homeopathy and Chinese acupuncture.
P.S. The neurologist here in Israel prescribed me with an anti depression drug for treating migraines. ELAVIL is its name. I take a dosage of 25 mg for a week, next week is 50 mg and third week and on is 75 mg. That's what the doctor said.