Comments on A “Migraine Personality”?

I feel terrible today, but what kind of blogger would I be if I left you without something to read?

Yesterday’s post on whether there’s a migraine personality has raised your ire and gotten many fabulous comments. Some longtime readers, including my favorite mother-in-law, were even prompted to delurk.

I recommend reading all the comments, but here’s a sample:

If they applied such logic to any other disease, they would realize how foolish they are being!

Well, my migraines only started after I had brain surgery and I have no aura. I sort of fit the profile they describe. So, are they now going to tell ME that my migraines are psycological and not because of the 3 x 6 cm area removed from my brain?

I prefer to think of it as the fact that some people are naturally more susceptible to pain. Or that some people just naturally have more pain. Some people get cancer, some don’t. Some people have a lot of pain, some don’t.

Thanks to everyone who has left a comment on the post. I love reading about your experiences and thoughts. I know it helps other readers too.

To the rest of you, I’d love to have your input on this or any post. Whatever it is that you have to say is valuable, whether you have headaches or not. I won’t be offended if you want to remain anonymous by making up a name and e-mail address!

6 thoughts on “Comments on A “Migraine Personality”?”

  1. I’m 40 and about 3 months ago I started getting M for the first time. My MRI showed white spots which the radiologist reading suggested I may have MS but my Nuero says the white spots are only scars from all the M I’ve been having. Funny, she made this diagnosis without even looking at my MRI disc. I go from headaches to M to 3 good days back to headaches to M, etc. I do not get an aura. Although this looks like a pattern, I do not believe M have a personality. And although life can get stressful, I am a very happy person and love life. I can feel depressed at times, but I would not classify myself as a “depressed person”. I may be a rookie at this M game, but that’s my take!

  2. Thanks for the comments! Check out the comments on the original post for even more terrific input.

    I can’t seem to explain this so it makes any sense, but I didn’t take the abstract as saying that those personality traits cause migraine, but that people who heard these findings might interpret them as such.

    Christina P.’s comment below really expands on the topic.

    On guilt — this is a theme that comes up over and over among folks with headache. I worry that my niece may have migraine. It isn’t guilt exactly, but I will feel somewhat responsible if she does. Makes no sense, especially because she’s my niece, not my daughter, but that’s how it goes.

    I think other diseases do carry the same guilt. Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, ALS all have genetic components. The guilt comes from watching someone you love suffer. If I were a parent, I can imagine feeling like my child’s suffering was because of the genes I passed on.


  3. I find it so distressing that any of us would feel “migraine guilt” for being a female born to a female who suffered migraines. Yet, I also have many patients who feel “migraine guilt” when their daughters or sons begin to experience headaches.

    I wonder would similar guilt be experienced over other inherited qualities or disorders?

  4. Having only read THIS page let me testify that I have “migraine guilt” for being a female born to a female who suffered migraines. How silly! Everyone has stress. And like Vicki, I’ve always been a perfectionist yet my “Hemicrania Continua” did not begin until menopause and rages still at age 70. But am I depressed? Nah.

  5. I, too, am very sensitive and object to implications that I am somehow to blame for having migraines. If I had a nickel for everyone, including medical folks, who tell me that it’s because of stress. If it was stress, I would have had these horrendous headaches when I lived with my first husband!

    That being said, it’s hard to know about the chicken or the egg. Do things like my perfectionism, my drive, my attention to detail, depression, my sensitivity make me more susceptible to migraines? Or are these merely artifacts of the headache?

    I’ve chosen not to think about it either way. I do try to do relaxation and meditation. But I try NOT to blame myself for yet another thing. My “guilt quota” is almost filled.

  6. Well, I don’t know any of these researchers personally. But I did notice that all of their names were clickable links, which led me to a list of their previous publications. Four of them had previously published in the field of anorexia nervosa and eating disorders, and never before in migraine. For one of them, this was a first time authorship. The others have a fairly solid background in migraine genetics and other migraine research.

    I did not take away from the abstract that anyone was saying it’s “all in your head”, or that the pain is psychosomatic. Rather, it is saying that we (for I have migraine without aura as well) are more likely to suffer from depression, and are more likely, on a statistical basis, to have certain personality traits. If you’re Italian. 😉

    Now. How to evaluate the medical literature: never hang your hat on a single study. Critically evaluate the statistical analysis, which we are unable to do here, as all we have access to is the abstract. Don’t overgeneralize the results. And finally, retain reasonable doubt and a sense of logic. Doesn’t it seem as if a new study every week contradicts the one from last week?

    And here is a priceless quote from a statistician who writes for MedScape: “J’accuse: Many of the medical research papers you read will be wrong, not as a result of methodologic flaws, poor design, or inappropriate statistics, but because of typing errors.” (Dr. Andrew J. Vickers)

    Sometimes, something will reach “statistical significance”, but that could mean that a few more people in one group had the described characteristics than the group that didn’t. It does not mean that everyone did.

    It would be difficult to dispute that there are more migraine sufferers with depression than non-migraine sufferers. I think the take-home message in the abstract is this: “These traits correlate with dysregulated neurotransmitter systems…”

    And the sooner we figure out how to target these dysregulated neurotransmitter systems, the better.

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