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Trying Ritalin for Migraine Prevention… and Loving It

Wait-and-see-if-it-goes-away is my method of dealing with house problems. Not because I want to see if a minor issue will develop into a major problem, but calling someone and meeting with a service person is an exhausting proposition when you have a migraine all the time. So yesterday when Hart told me the shower was backing up, he was astonished when I immediately asked if I needed to call a plumber. That’s just not how we do things around here.

Until now. Now my mind is clear(er), I have more energy, and my migraine pain is improving. Today is my fifth day on Ritalin (methylphenidate). My headache specialist suggested it after a number of patients reported a decrease in their headaches and migraine attacks after starting it for ADD or ADHD. Though I’m taking it primarily as a migraine preventive, the fact that it is a stimulant definitely adds to its appeal — the fatigue has been more debilitating than the migraine pain since I started cyproheptadine. The reprieve from my mental fog was entirely unexpected, but so, so welcome. Carrying on an intelligent conversation and following complex tasks without trouble is blissful.

Oddly, the frequency of the migraine attacks is still the same — of the five days I’ve been on Ritalin, I’ve had migraine attacks on four of them, including today. A couple times I wasn’t even sure I had a migraine. The pain was only at a level 3, but I was having trouble staying awake, which indicates a migraine attack for me. I was able to “sleep off” the worst of those attacks with hour-long naps. The overall throbbing pain I’m so accustomed to has diminished, so the pain is mostly localized and stabbing, but mild.

This is a strange and exciting new world and I’m loving it!

14 Responses to Trying Ritalin for Migraine Prevention… and Loving It

  1. Nilofer says:

    Glad to hear that you are doing better. All the best to you.

  2. macattack says:

    Congrats on new, potentially effective, find!! Does it cause side effects like trouble sleeping?

  3. Heather says:

    I’m so happy to hear you’re finally having some relief! Who would have thought Ritalin would help migraine pain? I’m adding that to my list of things to try! hope it continues to help and maybe even starts reducing the frequency! :)

  4. Kate says:

    Great! I’m also on this med, but for excessive sleepiness, especially in the morning. I usually take 20mg in the morning and that is it, but sometimes I need more (like when I had a class for work for an entire week). When I take larger amounts more often I actually found I had more headache pain…but possibly coincidence. I think anything that helps in any way is great.

    This has been a good med for me too. Dry mouth has been an issue, but I think its more of a combo of taking multiple meds causing it, not one in particular. Plus, my insurance only covers it for ADD (but the cash price isn’t bad at all). I had heard at least once in the past that it helped someone with headache pain. There have been weirder things. Best wishes.

  5. Sammi says:

    So happy for you! I’ve never heard of Ritalin for this use before, but now I’m kind of eager to try it, should my headaches / migraines get that bad again. I would happily do away with all the brain fog issues I have.

    But anyway, best of luck, and I hope this keeps working for you!

  6. Lisa says:

    This is quite the effects I feel from my preventives that work. Frequency is still high but often the pain is a 3 or 4 and I can sleep thought the worst (if I’m home). It’s really the difference between debilitating and functional, and makes all the difference. It takes away the anxiety surrounding migraines for me too. I really hope it continues to help you. Sending you love!

  7. Pam says:

    Curious to know how you are doing now? It looks like it’s been about a month out now. I was just reading how some people have found relief with ritalin and found this page. I hope you are still feeling better.

  8. Kim says:

    I had no idea that ritalin can be used as a migraine preventative. I had myself tested for ADHD about seven years ago, & was officially diagnosed with it (inattentive type, no hyperactivity). I did try Adderall at a very small dose, but had to stop because it just made my migraines worse. I haven’t been on anything for it since. Now I’m wondering if ritalin could help me in more ways than one. I will ask about it at my next appointment. Thanks for your post!

    ********
    Unfortunately, some people do have an increase in headaches or migraine attacks on stimulants. Not sure if Ritalin would be different than Adderall, but it is certainly worth asking your doctor about.

    Best of luck!
    Kerrie

  9. Lauri Jaafari says:

    I just read this webpage. I started taking Concerta on and off about a month ago to help with focus and possibly migraine help. That’s Methylphenidate– the same as Ritalin.
    not sure if headaches are caused or helped by it that’s why I’m been on and of and now on again.
    How are you doing these days? What else do you use for chronic headaches/migraines?

    • Hi Lauri,

      I only took the methylphenidate for about six months. After the initial surge of energy, it didn’t help the migraines and no longer increased my energy. I know someone who started Concerta for ADHD and it worsened their migraines considerably. It took a few months to notice the full effect, but they were up from one or two migraines a month to four a week. They’ve since switched to a lower dose of Concerta and take it twice in a day. It appears that this is helping level off the dose so there’s no major dip in the wee hours of the night.

      Take care,
      Kerrie

  10. ANITA says:

    I’M ON METHYLPHENIDATE HCI 10MG AS FROM TODAY. SOUTH AFRICA. ONE DOCTOR JUST REFUSED TO PRESCRIBE IT AS HE JUST SAID ITS NOT INDICATED FOR MEGRAIN. FORTUNATELY THE OTHER DOCTOR WAS PREPARED TO WALK THE WAY WITH ME. THIS IS THEIR CALLING, WELL SUPPOSED TO BE AS THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO LOVE PEOPLE ANT WANT TO HELP IF YOU SUFFER. SO I’M GOING TO TRY THIS FOR A MONTH IF I DO’NT GET MIGRAINE THIS MONTH THEN I KNOW ITS WORKING!.. I GET IT ONCE A MONTH BEFORE MY PERIOD. I READ A LOT ABOUT RAISING THE DOPAMIN LEVEL AND NOT SO MUCH THE SEROTONIN. IM FED-UP WITH PAIN PILLS AS THEY DO NOT HELP DURING A ATTACK. YOU JUST DRINK PAIN MEDS TO TRY AND COPE. YOU HAVE TO WAIT THE 3 DAY ATTACK OUT! I’M EXITED TO SEE RESULTS. DON’T WANT TO DO TOPAMAX BECAUSE OF HAIR LOSS REPORTS AND FORGETTING STUFF. DON’T WANT TO DO SEBELIUM CAUSE IT RAISES APPITITE. REGARDS. ANITA

  11. Anita Holtzhausen says:

    This is month 6 now. My docter addes Topiramate ( toplep) I now use it with Methylphenidate. Toplep 25mg in the evening. Methylphenidate 10 mg in the morning. I can nou report. When I skip toplep, I get an attack. When I skip Methylphenidate I get an attack. Ive experimented with both to see whats happens. So I conclude: I have to stay on both. Like this weekend I didnt take Methylhenidate. And now 2 days later I have a migrain. Now during the migrain I have taken a 10 mg Methyphenidate 6:00 this morning and at 10:00 and it lightens up the pain a lot! The other day I broke the small toplep in half or tried to cut it and drank it to see what would happen and the very next day I had an attack. This is the 3rd time I skipped Methylphenidate to test it and had an attack during the 6 months of trail. So now I am left to believe that I should keep on using both together and not skip one or the other. Hope to hear from some one that also tested it this way?

  12. Anita Holtzhausen says:

    Just to makd it clear here is my notes. Staryed with Methylphenidate Nove 2015 alone and got an attack but it was much more beareable and sisnt last 3 days. Dec 2015 doc added Toplep 25mg with the Methyl10mg. Took both everyday. Toplep at night. Methyl in morning. No attack. Jan 2016 same dosis. No attack. Then started to experiment by skipping Metyl in a day in feb 2016. Got an attack. To make sure skipped again in Feb got an attack. Skipped Methyl on a day in March again and got an attack. Then I read about hairloss and saw it with me wrt Toplep. Thats when I thought ok take less toplep but its so small. Half one gave me attack beginning of march. So now I skipped Methyl last weekend for two days and two days later I have an attack. So this tells me neither can be skipped and should be used together. Cause toplep alone doesnt help and methyl alone doesnt help. Also when I take extra Methyl during an attack it lightens up the pain. And I npw take zink for the hair and it helped instantly. Whether it was my season to shed I can not tell but I’d rather take Zink in anycase cause theres no extra hairfall now. Hope this helps some one else

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