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Migraine Mood Changes: Don’t Believe Everything You Think

It’s been a long time since a migraine destroyed my mood like it did Tuesday. It was a scary reminder of the dark thoughts that accompany migraine mood changes.

I was fiddling with a picture for a post and minor frustrations had me nearly in tears. Hart fixed the problem while I sat beside him, closed my eyes and took deep breaths. My mind jumped from Photoshop to “Why can’t I get this diet figured out. What am I supposed to do when a food is OK on one day and then not the next time in the rotation? How am I supposed to eat anything? What if I don’t get it sorted out and the migraines come back full force? I don’t want to do that again.”

As my mind spiraled in fear, I reminded myself to not believe everything I think. Those thoughts I was having? They aren’t Truth, nor do they represent what I believe most of the time. I told myself, “This is migraine. This is migraine. This is migraine. This is not me.” Within minutes of remembering the critical distinction between me and migraine, all the anxiety and frustration melted away.

Then I was amazed at how far I’ve come. When a migraine hijacked my mood even a couple years ago, I’d respond by dwelling on every dark thought that crossed my mind. Now I know to shut down those ruminations because they hurt far more than they help. Realizing I’ve learned to pay diligent attention and respond to all the minute migraine-induced changes (mood and otherwise) fills me with gratitude and pride.

Through much research and work, I’ve made tremendous strides in my physical health. I have worked just as hard at changing the way I react to and cope with migraine. As proud as I am of the first achievement, the latter may be even more meaningful. While my physical improvements may not last (in fact, I’m having all sorts of food issues and averaging two migraines a day right now), I can always rely on the strategies I’ve learned to ease the burden of living with chronic migraine. As the saying goes, I can’t control migraine, but I can control the way I react to it.

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Can Feeling Weird Predict a Migraine Attack?

Do you ever feel like you can predict a migraine is coming on because you just feel “off”? You’re not crazy. This is the first phase of a migraine attack, called prodrome, which occurs before the pain — and often visual aura — set in. It can start a day or two before a headache or visual aura.

The long, long list of possible prodrome symptoms:

Visual (aka aura)

  • a bright shape that spreads across the visual field of one eye
    and appears to block some or all of the vision; can be seen whether the
    eye is open or closed
  • flashes of light and color
  • wavy lines
  • geometric patterns
  • blurred vision
  • partial loss of sight

Sensory

  • numbness or tingling on the face or upper extremities
  • a sense that limbs are a distorted shape or size
  • smelling odors that aren’t actually present (like natural gas or something burning)

Motor

  • partial paralysis
  • weakness or heaviness in the limbs on one side of the body

Language

  • difficulty finding words
  • problems understanding spoken or written language

Cognitive

  • mental confusion
  • disorientation
  • transient global amnesia (similar to amnesia that follows a concussion)

Digestive

  • food cravings (particularly for carbohydrates, candy and chocolate)
  • stomach rumblings
  • constipation

Fluid Disturbances

  • increased thirst
  • bloating/fluid retention
  • frequent urination

Mental/Personality

  • mood changes
  • irritability
  • high energy
  • lethargy

These are only part of little-known migraine symptoms. The Many Symptoms of Migraine describes symptom in the active migraine phase and the letdown, or postdrome.

Migraine: The Complete Guide is the source of these lists. It is my very favorite headache book, but is outrageously outdated. Perhaps if we mention it enough, the American Headache Society will consider updating the 14-year-old book.