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Thursday, December 06, 2012 Emma987, Community Member, asks

Q: Hemiplegic migraines plus anxiety or mini migraine?

Hi guys, I was diagnosed with hemiplegic migraines as a child. They went away for a few years, but I then had a full blown migraine aged 22, another gap, then frequent migraines aged 29. In between times I often feel a bit strange - kind of out of myself and dizzy, with minor hm symptoms like numbness. The feeling is exactly like that time just before a migraine starts, and so i worry that i will have one. Doctor diagnosed me with anxiety, and cbt did help but I'm finding it's happening more now I've been having migraines recently. Tends to last quite a while and can be linked with stressful situations but not always. Though resoonse to cbt might support the anxiety diagnosis, ive read that cbt can help people with migraines (presumably by reducing the stress trigger) Just wondering if anyone has similar experiences of feeling "migrainey" without the symptoms - is it possible to just experience this part of a migraine? Or on the other hand has anyone looked into link between anxiety and migraine - apparently our brains have a weakness for that too! I feel like the doctors don't understand this at all so are quick to dismiss as anxiety because of the stressful situations, but then could be that stress is the migraine trigger. Bit of a thought overload there but it's difficult to get answers to these things!
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Answers (1)
Nancy Harris Bonk, Community Member
12/10/12 2:52pm

Hi Emma,


Thanks for writing in. It is possible to have a number of different Migraine and/or headache disorders at the same time. Hemiplegic Migraine (HM) is a rare form of Migraine often starting in childhood. But like all forms of Migraine, it's a genetic neurological disease and the most current theories, backed by research, show it to be caused by genetics and a cascade of events that impact overly excitable neurons in our brains. Once our overly sensitive brains are triggered by certain stimuli such as changes in the weather, hormones, dehydration, sleep issues, and certain foods, and others, a Migraine may occur.


When you say "migrainey" without the symptoms, do you mean head pain and in your case, motor weakness? Silent or acephalgic Migraine are Migraine attacks that can have all the symptoms of a Migraine attack except the headache phase. Take a look at this article when you get a chance; Acephalgic or Silent Migraine.


Anxiety and Migraine can be comorbid conditions.  This mean they can occur at the same time but don't cause one another. And CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy can be helpful for many people with chronic illness.


As far as stress goes, there is some controversy on whether this is a Migraine trigger or not and we hate to see anyone just accept that as their only Migraine trigger. If our body is under any kind of additional stress, emotional or physical, we can become more susceptible to our Migraine triggers. Take a look at this when you get a chance; Is Stress a Migraine Trigger?


Trigger identification and management is an important part of Migraine management and preventing Migraines. You may have some triggers that you can avoid, thus preventing Migraines brought on by those triggers. Do you know what any of your triggers are? When working to identify triggers one of the best tools is a good Migraine diary. You can read more about this and download a free diary workbook in our article Your Migraine and Headache Diary.


Good luck


Emma987, Community Member
12/11/12 3:35am

Hi Nancy,


thanks for your reply. By my very scientific term "migrainey" I mean that I feel different mentally (same sort of way as sometimes before a migraine) - out of myself and a bit disconnected, and also can feel numbness down one side. For me headaches are never that bad so I might have a slight tension headache but that's the one bit of the migraine that doesn't bother me that much - I suppose I should be greatful for that!


I'm just really starting out on learning properly about migraines as in the past the full blown HM episodes were far enough apart that I didn't need to do this. My first port of call was my GP which wasn't too helpful - I don't expect them to be a specialist but it's amazing how quickly they jump to strong prescription drugs with serious side effects (which aren't at all proven for HM!) but won't consider magnesium, or other natural remedies.


I've started taking magnesium and riboflavin, and suspect shoulder tension and caffeine may be triggers for both migraine and anxiety. If those don't work I shall certainly try the diary.


Many thanks for your help,



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By Emma987, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/11/12, First Published: 12/06/12