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Three Fascinating Depression Articles in Recent News

People say that you don’t notice how many pregnant women are in the world until you’re pregnant yourself. I’m finding a similar phenomenon now that I’m depressed again — I barely thought about depression for a couple years, but now that it’s back on my mind, I’m noticing articles everywhere. Three very different, very interesting articles on depression have caught my eye this week.

Why Don’t Antidepressants Work Faster? (Slate)
I’m pretty sure anyone who has taken antidepressants has wondered this very thing. This informative article from a Scientific American writer is easy to understand, but doesn’t skip over important scientific information.

Sleep Therapy Seen as an Aid for Depression (New York Times)
A newly published study found that helping depressed people overcome insomnia with a “cheap, relatively brief and usually effective” form of therapy could double their chances of a full recovery. The technique uses specialized cognitive-behavioral therapy and sounds kind of like typical sleep hygiene recommendations, but is actually quite different, according to researchers.

Gut Bacteria Might Guide the Workings of Our Minds (NPR)
Researchers are investigating whether the bacteria in our digestive systems could influence our moods and behaviors. Such a fascinating idea.

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The Everlasting Search to Pinpoint Migraine Triggers

It never fails. I return home from a trip* and a migraine hits within a few hours. As always, there’s the urge to figure out what went wrong, what triggered the migraine. I could blame it on insufficient protein in my breakfast and lunch, restless sleep, not drinking enough water, or the mere fact that I was on an airplane for three hours. Or I could use the commonly cited trigger of stress — the stress of travel, the stress of returning to the demands of normal life, the stress of leaving friends, or the stress release upon being home. (Whether stress is actually a trigger is debatable.)

Practically anything, whether it is positive, negative or neutral, could be a trigger. Eating a particular food? Not eating enough? Eating too much? Inadequate sleep? Excessive sleep? Weather changes? Schedule disruption? Flying? Any of these could be a trigger. This is the trouble with migraine. (Well, actually, there are many troubles with migraine, but this is the one that ignites most of my fruitless worry and unfounded self-flagellation.)

Not only is the field of potential triggers wide open, they are additive. Something might not be a trigger in isolation, but add on a couple more triggers and the attack begins.

What most triggers have in common is that the migraineur can be blamed for causing them to happen. “You have a migraine? Well, if you had taken care of yourself by sleeping/eating/breathing correctly, you wouldn’t have gotten it.” This seems to be the attitude of the general public. And we migraineurs are pretty quick to judge ourselves, too. Of course we don’t want to have migraine attacks and changing our behaviors or diets is one potential way to feel like we have some control over this illness. More importantly, it could reduce the frequency of attacks, which must be a universal goal among migraineurs.

Triggers are absolutely real. But they are also different for everyone. And sometimes you can follow all the rules and still have a migraine attack. That’s the case for me 95% of the time, yet I still have a migraine nearly every day. I feel like I must be doing something wrong, but have no idea what it is.

*I wrote this last week after returning from a wedding in Minneapolis. It devolved into a rant, so I let it sit a while before editing and posting.

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Why I’m Doing Better, Part 2

I’ve changed my promised follow-up to Why I’m Doing Better, Part 1 because the format felt wrong. I have plenty to write about the strategies that have made me feel better, but I want to do so in descriptive individual posts instead of a couple all-about-me lists. I think my new approach has far more value to you than my original plan. Expect posts on exercise, meditation, finding my “third space,” lifestyle changes (like diet and sleep), and special glasses. I’ll let you know when a post is related to my improved health.

I’ve never been more aware that there’s no one solution to chronic migraine. It has taken an assemblage of treatments and tweaks for me to feel better. The tendency is to search for one total treatment, but, much like diabetes, migraine is an illness that has to be managed on many fronts.

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On the Forum: Getting Deep, Restorative Sleep

Getting sufficient high-quality sleep can be a huge challenge. On the online support group and forum, grateful describes some common sleep problems and asks for input on ensuring a good night’s rest. What are your techniques? Join the conversation to get ideas and share what works for you.

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Migraine & Headache News From the American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting

Migraine-related study findings presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting, April 12-19.

Migraine Increases Risk of Severe Skin Sensitivity and Pain
The study found that 68 percent of those who reported almost daily headaches (chronic migraine) and 63 percent of those with episodic migraines reported allodynia, the name of this intensified and unpleasant, painful skin sensitivity. Forty-two percent of people with probable migraine reported the skin pain compared to 37 percent of those with daily or tension headache.

Migraine Frequency Linked with Women’s Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
New research shows women who have weekly migraine are significantly more likely to have a stroke than those with fewer migraines or no migraine at all, but those with lower migraine frequency may face increased risk of heart attacks.

Breastfeeding While Taking Seizure Medicine Does Not Appear to Harm Children
A first of its kind study finds breastfeeding while taking certain seizure medications does not appear to harm a child’s cognitive development.

Children with Migraine at Increased Risk of Sleep Disturbances
Children with migraine are more likely to have sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and lack of sleep, than children without migraine, according to research on the effects of headaches on children’s sleep patterns.

Overuse of Codeine, Oxycodone and Barbiturates Increases Risk of Chronic Migraine
People who overuse barbiturates and opioids, such as codeine, butalbital, and oxycodone, to treat migraine are at an increased risk of developing chronic migraine.