Those Frustrating Migraine Symptoms - Anxiety

Patient Expert
Medically Reviewed

Migraine is a complex disease with myriad possible symptoms. Some of these symptoms can be frightening; at the very least, they're frustrating. Anxiety is one of the possible symptoms of a migraine attack.

A migraine attack can cause fluctuations of brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These fluctuations can result in a number of mood symptoms including anxiety, or abnormal and sometimes overwhelming feelings of fear and apprehension. Anxiety can also have physiological symptoms including perspiring and increased heart rate.

The ability to cope with anxiety as a migraine symptom is a good example of how beneficial it can be to learn about migraine and its potential symptoms. Simply recognizing the anxiety we're feeling during a migraine attack as a migraine symptom, can help reduce the anxiety itself. If you know anxiety can be a migraine symptom for you, you can also tell your spouse or another family member, who can then help "talk you down."

The first time I experienced anxiety as a migraine symptom, I told my husband that he had to take me to the hospital. I felt that something was seriously wrong. He had overheard me discussing migraine-related anxiety with someone on the phone, and taking a cue from that, he began asking me questions about what my pain level was, how that particular migraine was different from others, etc. Then he asked me if perhaps anxiety was causing me to have additional, baseless fears. That caused me to stop, think, and realize that the migraine wasn't worse than others I'd had, and the only difference was the anxiety I was experiencing.

Migraineurs who experience anxiety during migraine attacks sometimes wonder if they have an anxiety disorder. If you have this concern, please discuss it with your doctor. If your anxiety occurs only during migraine attacks, it may be due to the migraine, but it's best to be screened in order to rule out an anxiety disorder.

If you learn that you do have an anxiety disorder, realize that there are excellent treatments available. If you feel overwhelming anxiety just during your migraine attacks, migraine abortive medications should relieve the anxiety along with other migraine symptoms. If medication does not reduce or eliminate the anxiety, your doctor can discuss other ways to deal with that symptom during a migraine attack.

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