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Forum Name: Headaches

Question: Headaches and Panic Attacks


 brit2790 - Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:35 pm

I am 19 years old.

I started having severe migranes when i turned 14 and entered high school. Sometimes they would be so bad i would go in a panic attack. My family doctor said they were caused my stress. When I got out of high school they seemed to almost dissapear altogether. And if I did feel one coming on I would take 2 excedrin migranes and drink a coke and it would go away

However recently I have started to get migranes almost everyday and the excedrin migrane dosn't help at all. I feel like I could go into a panic attack all of the time.

Like when I got to my new job orientation which I was not stressed at all about I sat down and I felt out of breath and my hands started shaking really bad.

I feel tired, irritable and like im going to cry all of the time. i don't know what to do.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Nov 06, 2009 12:14 am

User avatar Hi there -- It sounds as though you have possible panic disorder (PD) with associated migraine (not unsual, and often seen in conjunction with some benign heart abnormalites as well, though not always, and again, they are benign, just peculiar). The migraines seemed to ealier respond to classic treatment (ibuprofin and caffeine) but this no longer works. The panics, as I understand your post, seem to follow or are almost triggered (?) by the migraines. This may actually all be interrelated and was perhaps originally triggered by stress, but once the genie is out of the bottle it can be triggered by things that only seem as though they could (or should) be stressful, but may not seem to be. The problem with this group of disorders is that they begin to take on a life of their own after a while, and the obvious triggers no longer seem obvious, so the sufferer tends to deny a problem in precisely the area where it exists. For instance: Your having to fight off a panic attack during orientation for a new job (something that would be at least moderately stressful for most people) suggests you may have gotten good at pushing past the avoidance of stressful situations to the extent you no longer recognize they are stressful. Panic attacks then begin to seem to come out of "thin air" for no apparent reason. It gets much more difficult to recognize what's bothering us, and often there just isn't time to think about it or, if we did think about it, we might find we're not able to move forward, so we block it out.

I would strongly suggest a combination approach to this. See a neurologist for the migraines. The neurologist may well, in addition to prescribing something more effective for the migraines, refer you to a practitioner of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a self-limiting, interactive type of therapy which is not just "talk therapy" but is a relatively short program that helps the patient to recognize and control anxiety/panic and other mood problems. You may also be prescribed a temporary "rescue" drug such as Xanax to abort the panics, if they continue after the migraines are controlled.

So this isn't as simple as it should be, but really it's manageable and not all that unusual, so you shouldn't feel bad about it. You're in good company.

I hope this is helpful. Please follow up with us here as needed. Good luck to you.

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