Can Migraines be psychological?

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New Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 12/25/2005 5:06 PM (GMT -6)   
I am at a loss.  I have spent hundreds of dollars on doctor visits, specialists, various tests, and meds to find a way to help my migraine problem.  I'm beginning to think they are psychological.  Do you have any input?
Here is my story.
Since my 30th birthday, I have had migraine headaches.  They were few and far between until January of this year (almost ONE year ago).  In January, I begin having migraines once or twice a week.  It then escalated into a 3-5 occurrences.  In March I was having them EVERY day...  Now...the good part about this is that I was able to function with them. I was able to do my job, do my normal duties even with the migraine.  Yes, they were severe, they hurt, and they were often highly stressful...but I was able to do what needed to be done. 
Over the summer, I went off all my medications to see if that would ease the migraine occurrences.  I went off my anti-depressant (I'd been on those for over 2 years) and my birth control.  It didn't help.  The migraines continued...incessantly.  At one point I remember thinking that this would just be my life and I would have to accept it...
And then in September--they stopped miraculously...on a day when I ate 3 full meals.  I normally didn't do that.  In fact, I rarely ate breakfast, and I only ate dinner if I had my son.  So I started eating 3 meals a day and one snack. 
From September through the end of November, the only migraines I had were when I had my period--but that was bad news too.  These migraines were debilitating.  I have missed work twice because of migraines.  Also, these migraines that did occur (though very infrequently between September and November) were so painful that I often cried and threw up.  I had only had this painful of a migraine ONCE in the two years since I had begun getting the migraines. 
In December, the daily migraines returned.  I now cannot function with them.  I am in horrible pain almost every day.  I just want to cut my head off sometimes.  I can truly understand why some migraine sufferers commit suicide--the pain is too much to bear.  (I would never take my own life as it is against God's word, but I do understand the desperation those people must have felt). 
While I once thought it was the malnutrition--though I had always not eaten much--that caused the migraines, I now wonder if they aren't being triggered psychologically.  September to December was when I dated my last boyfriend.  When I didn't have the headaches, I think I was happy.  Shortly before our breakup, I began getting the migraines again--like I KNEW what was going to happen--what I KNEW I should have done first.
However, I don't feel depressed, but there is no elation, no desire, no nothing.  I just feel "normal" yet all the while having these horrible migraines.
I still force myself to function with these daily migraines, but it is a constant struggle.  I refuse to let pain cause me to be unhappy.
MEDS I've tried--
Axert--didn't work
Topamax--I took it for six weeks and it never affected the migraines.
Blood Pressure Medication--took for six weeks, no affect.
Different birth control pills--never seemed to help
Imitrex--works but always takes about 2 hours to "work its magic"
Butal/Apap--some type of prescription (non-narcotic) pain med.  Helps only on minor migraines...which I haven't had lately.  :(
Tests I've had--
CT Scan
Heart Sonogram
Hormone Levels
Current Treatment--
I use Imitrex (pills only 25 and 100 mg), Butal/Apap (isn't working so well anymore).
I am also taking birth control pills and skipping my period each month.
Comments?  Suggestions?

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2004
Total Posts : 921
   Posted 12/27/2005 12:22 PM (GMT -6)   

Is it psychological-NO!!!  if that was the case we would all be strapped down in a nut house somewhere and they would medicate us and call it a day.

There are several things I think could be issues in your specific case, mind you I am nowhere near a doctor, these are mere suggestions from my own experience and from the MANY publications I have read.

Horomones, Lack of consistency with meals (and possibly sleep), coming off and back on medications is not good and can set off migraines,

Staying on a medication for 6 weeks is NOT going to give you a proper indication of whether it is going to work or not, that length of time is not nearly long enough.

What happened around the time you started getting migraines? What may have triggered them? (The actual beginning?)

Don't get me wrong here, you may have a mental disposition OR "attitude" that is NOT HELPING, but there are a lot of depressed and grouchy people who do not have MIGRAINE DISEASE. Migraine is a NEUROLOGICAL DISEASE and it is best if you know it is that and then try to put the pieces together to try and keep the pain from coming, at least as often and as harsh.
Sara-Migraine/Headache Forum Moderator
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Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2005
Total Posts : 24
   Posted 12/28/2005 3:52 AM (GMT -6)   
NIKKI66 when i read your post 2 things ran accross my mind. one is maybe you are hypoglycemic and low blood sugar was adding to your migraines. the other thing i'm wondering is if your migraines are migraines at all or maybe they could really be tension headaches or tension migraines. that would explain why they get worse at more stressful times in your life. have you ever tried Fioricet? i bet that would be a miracle drug for you. it will relax you and help with your headache.
good luck to you,

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 34
   Posted 12/28/2005 11:45 AM (GMT -6)   
Honestly, you didn't give Topamax long enough to start working properly. Also while the recommended dosage is between 25-200mg some patients need more.

That's one preventative medicine. I hear you on the abortive medications not working. No abortive pill has worked for me with >20% success rate. The only abortive medication that works for me is Inderal injections. If you aren't afraid of stabbing yourself with needles I'd recommend talking with your neurologist about it.

The other thing is you need not only medicine but a healthy *lifestyle.* Its a combination of both. I know its not psychological and I know its genetic because my grandmother and father both have them, and so do I. I know its not just eating healthy because my mom is a health nut and I ate healthy growing up (still do). However I do know that when I eat healthy and exercise and sleep properly it does shave off maybe 1-2 migranes/month. Not much but its something...


New Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 12/29/2005 3:40 PM (GMT -6)   
The onset of the "daily" migraines happened in January of this year (2005). I was struggling with some life changes, but I really thought I had a hold on that. I didn't feel sad or depressed...I just kept moving forward. I did have some serious doubts about the longevity of some friendships which were going toward change (one friend was getting married and moving away--still my best friend, the other friend and I were arguing about trust--we are no longer friends).

I was tested for was negative. I have spent so much money on doctors. My next step is a neurologist. What will a neurologist be able to do for me?

My mom lived with these migraines from the onset of her 30th b-day to present. She suffered with them before there was ever any relief. I do believe that I have inherited these lovely migraines...but nobody can tell me what to do to help it.

I have tried diet--as I explained. I am still eating 3 meals a day and at least one snack. The migraines are back despite this.

I appreciate your thoughts and opinions. I am seriously annoyed and frustrated by the pain.

My doctor only told me to do it 6 weeks...I was just following her orders. Will the neurologist be able to give me better advice about the Topamax.

Thanks for all your help.


Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2004
Total Posts : 921
   Posted 1/2/2006 8:21 PM (GMT -6)   

Yes, the neuro will have more info on Topamax, especially if they have any Migraine patients at all...

If I were you, I would do some research on my own and carry it to my doc's appt.

I find that if the doc knows you are informed and proactive they are more likely to take you seriously and pay attention to what you say in your suggestions.

Sara-Migraine/Headache Forum Moderator
Thanks for Visiting

Nicky (coquitlam55)
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 505
   Posted 1/3/2006 1:05 AM (GMT -6)   

Hi Nikki66,


Migraine headaches can have a psychological component. I recently read a really good book called Break the Headache Cycle and it discusses the fact that migraines sufferers are sensitive to changes in their environment - including emotional changes. Migraines are a neurological disease that can take a lot of work to figure out the right combination of lifestyle changes and medication to make life manageable.

I have found that a neurologist who speciliazes in migraines is the best to treat you in partnership with your family doctor. I work in partnership with both. I also see a psychologist who specializes in chronic pain. She has taught me relaxation exercises and ways to cope so that I can live with my migraines.

I find that changes in my life including not eating regularly, breakups, changes in jobs, fights with my husband, difficulty at work, an exam at school, and change in sleeping schedule, can all trigger migraines. I am also extremely sensitive to certain foods. Another good book is Heal Your Headache The 123 Program. Both books written by doctors discuss a trigger point at which migraines are triggered and ways to increase that level so that they aren't triggered so easily.

I often feel like my migraines are psychological. I can often talk myself into a migraine by worrying about something. I realize after talking to a psychologist and reading Break the Headache Cycle that it is my body's physiological response to my worry, lack of sleep, and stress. I am learning to live with it.

As Sara said, educate yourself. Learn as much as you can. As Philski said, six weeks was not enough time to know if the Topamax worked or not. I have read that you need at least 4 months and the recommended dosage is between 100 mg to 200 mg for migraine sufferers.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

Fall seven times, stand up eight.
                 --Japanese proverb

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