Migraine & Anger: Dangerous Links & Tips for Management
With all the emphasis placed on the direct symptoms of migraine—splitting headaches that can last for hours, nausea, restless leg syndrome, and light sensitivity among others—what sometimes gets forgotten is the way this condition can impact a person’s psychological state. It stands to a reason that a person may not be at their beast in the midst of an attack, and the numbers bear that out. According to Migraine.com’s “Migraine in America: 2016,” a survey of over 3,000 migraineurs, 34% report feeling “anger, rage, and irritability” during onset of symptoms. [1,2]
The fallout from this can be pretty extreme; for instance, the same survey noted that no less than 89% feel migraines impact relationships with their spouses, and 86% say it affects how they interact with their kids.  There’s clearly something afoot when it comes to migraine and feelings of anger and rage, which is why those with the condition—as well as those around them—should be active about taking it on.
What’s Causing the Problem?
The exact reasons why migraine can lead to intense mood swings and bouts of anger and rage are not entirely understood. One study looking at personality dimensions and this condition theorized that the certain brain chemical patterns often found in migraineurs are also seen in those who display impulsiveness and lack of self-control, which can lead to explosive rage.  There is, however, much more work to be done in assessing this relationship.
But, even without understanding why there are such strong links, the authors of the study emphasized that these kinds of traits make effective management of the condition more challenging.  Certainly, when you’re angry or feeling rage during an attack, your decision making may be strongly affected. Not only that, there’s a ripple effect as others around you may find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Anger Management for Migraineurs
In migraine cases with periods of rage and anger, prevention and management can take many forms. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you can do:
- Prevention: One way to take on anger flare-ups associated with migraine involves better understanding what’s causing the headaches and other symptoms to come on in the first place. Keeping track of triggers—not just for the condition, itself, but for the bouts of anger—might help you figure out what’s causing the problematic behavior and take pre-emptive action. If a friend or family member’s actions are leading to rage, for instance, you can try to communicate with them about it, so they’re made aware of what’s causing issues.
- Calming Techniques: There are numerous techniques for managing anger, and these can be particularly helpful in the heat of the moment. Breathing exercises or meditation can work well here as they help the body return to baseline after an angry flare-up. Others may find distraction techniques such as watching a favorite movie, listening to calming music, or reading to be a good way to “put away” that anger.
- Healthy Habits: Another way to take on anger during migraine attacks is to engage in positive behaviors that balance out the negativity. This might mean taking part in regular exercise and/or physical activity to release endorphins in the body. In addition to physical health, it’s also helpful to be engaged socially and spend time with friends and family who are a pleasure to be around. What you don’t want is to feel misunderstood or alone with your condition; even a quick phone call or text can serve as a reminder that you’re not isolated from others.
- Therapy: Therapists have helped many people with chronic conditions like migraine deal more effectively with feelings of rage and anger. Certainly, sessions with a professional will help take on the anxiety and depression associated with the condition, while also providing other tips and approaches to managing extreme cases. Not only that, therapists serve as an essential and impartial ear; they’ll hear your concerns and provide a valued perspective in taking on the condition.
Looking Towards Solutions
The tricky thing with migraine is that it not only varies among people, but it can arise in different ways and with different types of symptoms within the same person. This means that managing it is a complicated and dynamic process. That said, treatments and solutions are there; it’s important to remember that anger and rage, in these cases, are not reflections of the migraineur but rather the disease itself. What’s more, a proactive approach to taking on the condition, as well as the fortitude and courage not to give up in the face of it, will inevitably lead to effective results.
If you suffer from chronic migraine (more than 14 headache days a month), the team at Migraine Treatment Centers of America is ready help. The experts here combine innovative approaches as well as a dedication to care to ensure effective, long-term solutions to the problem. Learn more by calling (855) 300-6822 today!
- “Migraine: More Than A Headache, It’s A “Life-Ache” – Migraine.Com”. 2016. Com. Accessed November 7 2017. https://migraine.com/infographic/migraine-is-more-than-a-headache-its-a-life-ache/.
- Workman, A. (2017). Managing Anger. [online] Migraine.com. Available at: https://migraine.com/living-migraine/managing-anger/ [Accessed 7 Nov. 2017].
- Abbate-Daga G, et al. (2007). Anger, depression and personality dimensions in patients with migraine without aura. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17230053 [Accessed 7 Nov. 2017].