Migraines and temporary depression

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New Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 10/25/2007 12:47 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi everyone,
I am noticing incidents of major depression coming on during a migraine, which go away when the migraine is relieved. 
Does anyone know anything about this?
At first I thought it was just that pain causes depression, but I don't get this depression when I have other kinds of physical pain - even more severe kinds of physical pain.  There seems to just be something about a migraine. 
The depression is characterized by very morbid thoughts and memories, sometimes scary things.  Really miserable.  Again, when I get relief from the migraine the depression disappears.
Does anyone here understand what I'm talking about or have any ideas for further research?
Thanks very much.

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 120
   Posted 10/27/2007 4:25 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello :)  I've been having daily migraines for 4 years.  When my migraines start getting worse, my depression gets worse.  Other types of physical pain don't affect the depression at all.  I think there's something about having an unmanagable or untreated type of pain that just makes depression worse.  When my migraines get really bad, I just think things like "it's never going to get better" "i'm always going to be in pain" and "it would be so much easier to just let myself die."  Once I get a little relief from them, I think things like "I have to hang in there and wait until the right treatment comes along for me" and "someday it'll get better and I can go back to doing all of the things I've had to give up."  Is this what you were talking about?

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2004
Total Posts : 921
   Posted 10/27/2007 5:14 PM (GMT -6)   

Ok, so I am definitely NOT doctor...but it may have to do with seratonin?  Gotta do some research...lol

I CAN tell you that I have the same experience, migraine episodes that last even two days will put me in a "funk" but I can have kidney stones that require a week's hospital stay and I don't get the same depression symptoms. To be careful about the subject and not break any rules I can tell you that the depression cycles have been severe, and after it is over I wondered how I could have thought the things that I did.

I think a "mild" anti-depressant all the time helps ease the depression during the migraine episodes that trigger major depression.

At least you aren't alone with this...


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New Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 10/27/2007 7:18 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks to both of you for your answers. Liz, I don't think I am talking about exactly the same thing. I don't really have "thoughts", like "this is hopeless, I should just give up, etc.". I actually don't think it is hopeless as I have treatment options, and the pain medication may be on the way to me.

I just start getting into this nightmarish state of mind, where I remember every dark or scary thing about my life, or even things I have seen on television. It could be from decades ago. Or I dwell on family problems that I normally don't think about much. I don't know where it comes from.

I also have chronic kidney stones! The pain is certainly far worse than any migraine. But I am still "sane", during the pain. I don't feel like I am in a nightmare.

I know that many people who have "gone insane" have had severe headaches. I wonder what the connection is. Thanks again for your answers.

New Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 11/14/2007 3:46 AM (GMT -6)   
I know how you feel - I get very down when I have a migraine.  I get a premonition feeling that I just know that one is coming, then I sometimes get an aura, but mostly not recently, and then I start gettin depressed because I know one is coming.  But then, too, I don't feel good physically, do I do get into a "funk" and unfortunately for me, I get migraines 3-4 times a week, so I don't have much time to come out of the funk before the next one hits.  My husband is extremely frustruated (as am I as you can imagine) since I'm always in pain or depressed.  I, too, think it has something to do with brain chemicals changing when you get a migraine.

DX: Migraines, Tension Headaches, PFO
RX:  Lyrica, Cymbalta, Verapamil, Migrelief
PRN: Zomig, Toradol, Dilaudid, Valium

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 328
   Posted 11/14/2007 3:09 PM (GMT -6)   
JS_2007 said...
I just start getting into this nightmarish state of mind, where I remember every dark or scary thing about my life, or even things I have seen on television. It could be from decades ago. Or I dwell on family problems that I normally don't think about much. I don't know where it comes from.

I know that many people who have "gone insane" have had severe headaches. I wonder what the connection is. Thanks again for your answers.

Hi JS,

A lot of these responses have been about depression related to migraines but if I'm interpreting your post correctly, it's more the morbid and scary thoughts that are worrying you.

about a year and a half ago, I was in a really similar place. I was constantly having nightmares contain verrry disturbing images and ideas and I was constaly dwelling on the idea that all sorts of awful (as in gruesome and painful) accidents could befall me. It was a very scary and upsetting time in my life.

I think that I can identify two possible causes of this: 1) I was going through changes in the drugs I was taking which maybe have caused emotional problems from withdrawal and introduced new side effects that took a while to become acclimated to. However, I feel like that was probably more of a secondary or superficial reason. 2) More strikingly, I think, was the fact that my migraines were probably as bad or worse as they had ever been and I was continually seeing treatments fail, one after another, even though I had just started seeing new headache specialists. As you said, I didn't feel hopeless, though, just particularly negative. It was also a really depressing time as I had to stop school and work for the first time and, in temporarily withdrawing from college, I returned home to live with my parents for close to a year. I was more depressed, probably, than I've ever been (again, depressed as in unhappy, not feeling like I ought to give up), being away from my friends and girlfriend and feeling totally unproductive. Around that time the morbid thoughts began. I know I'm going to have trouble explaining this but, I think it was largely because I strong felt (or knew, perhaps) that I had very little or no control over the horrible pain and subsequent poor quality of life that I was experiencing. I think I was very deeply feeling that, because my pain had come on so suddenly and expectedly, and I was in such a different condition than all of the people around me, I started feeling as if all of the most horrible things in the world could happen to me, or at least had those things on my mind constantly.

In the end, the way I got out of that place in my life was probably through a combination of talk therapy with a great therapist and switching antidepressants to something that would also help treat my increased anxiety (I believe that around that time I started Effexor, which treats depression and anxiety). I guess I also came to be more at peace, feeling less like life might be out to get me.

Anyway, I don't know exactly if that's how you are feeling but I want you to know that it does happen: chronic pain and intense anxiety have a strong link for many reasons. You ought to talk to your headache specialist or any mental help professional that you might see and get some help. It's a terrible state of mind to be in.

Hoping that you feel better soon,
DX: NDPH, Recovered CRPS
RX: Lamictal, Abilify, Verapamil, Provigil, Clonazepam, Ambien CR, Rozerem, Emsam, Namenda
PRN: Haloperidol, Zyprexa, Lodine, Zofran, Oxycodone

Post Edited (korbnep) : 11/14/2007 1:14:11 PM (GMT-7)

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 57
   Posted 12/9/2007 3:27 PM (GMT -6)   

I think it is a combination of factors, as stated above.  When you start to get relief from your migraines, and then another steady stream of migraines (and of course migraine pain) hits, it can create a very negative, hopeless feeling.  ALSO, as tys pointed out there is an actual chemical reason this happens, and it has to do with serotonin.  One of the causes of migraines is decreased levels of serotonin (a "brain chemical") in the brain.  Serotonin is one of the brain chemicals responsible for making you feel "happy".  Studies have also shown one of the causes of depression is decreased levels of serotonin in the brain. So, it is quite common for people suffering with migraines to also suffer from depression.  Sometimes antidepressants will help in both areas by raising the serotonin levels in the brain.


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