Famous Migraineurs: Anne Frank

by Nancy Harris Bonk

 Anne Frank's contribution to the history of the Holocaust is well known; but did you also know she may have suffered from Migraines? Due to the various symptoms she describes in her dairies, Migraine researchers believe that Anne probably had Migraines and tension-type headaches. Anne was born on June 12, 1929, to parents Otto and Edith Frank. Anne and Margot, her older sister, lived in Frankfurt, Germany until Anne was five-years-old.  

Otto, being in the banking business, had business connections in Amsterdam. This enabled him to escape there just weeks before the Nazi's began their rise to power in 1933. He went to Amsterdam, leaving behind his wife and two daughters with their grandparents in Aachen, Germany. The Franks were reunited in February, 1934, with Anne being the last family member to arrive in Amsterdam. It wasn't until 1942 that German and Dutch authorities began to concentrate on the Jewish people throughout the Netherlands, tracking them down, sending thousands off to transit camps, then on to concentration camps. Anne and Margot were picked for labor camps at Bergen-Belsen. The girls died of typhus in March, 1945, a few short weeks before their camp was liberated. Edith Frank died in Auschwitz in January, 1945. Only Otto survived World War II.

Anne and her family shared a small, cramped secret attic apartment from 1942 to 1944, until four other Jews joined them. On Anne's 13th birthday, she was given a diary in which she wrote about her hopes, dreams, daily life and thoughts about becoming a woman while living in the "Secret "Annex" as she called it. She also described her isolation and fears of captured in the diary.

She experienced episodic head pain and was able to describe the symptoms in her diary. Some of them include vomiting, eye pain, and nausea. During these painful episodes, she wanted to be left alone and to be able to sleep. Anne often described her head pain as "throbbing," "pounding," "awful" and "terrifying." With some letters Anne wrote and entries from her diaries, de Almeida and  Kowacs determined that Anne's symptoms met the International Headache Society criteria for probable Migraine and tension-type headaches.

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