How Migraine Depression Affects The Mind-Body Connection
There’s a point at which your burdens may feel like they’re too much to handle. You’ve spent too many hours in pain and isolation or felt the gut-punch of migraine depression and self-disappointment too many times. Perhaps you feel like a burden to others. You’ve tried everything to get well and restore your life to what it was before — or, at least, to glimpse your old self again — and nothing seems to work. You feel stuck. Helplessness turns to hopelessness.
This is the moment when depression can turn into its most dangerous form.
Suicidal thoughts are difficult to discuss. There’s a lot of shame in raising the issue even with your closest loved ones or a doctor — for fear of their judgment. Know that if you’ve ever felt suicidal, you are not alone and that your suffering is not your fault. Living with migraine has increased your risk of feeling this way. But others who have traveled this dark path know that with help, you can feel better.
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Migraine, Depression and Suicide Risks
Migraine itself is a risk factor for suicidal thoughts (also called “suicidal ideation”), plans and attempts. Some specific risk factors include:
- People with migraine who also have depression
- Hospitalized migraine patients, even those without a diagnosed depressive disorder (likely because their existing depression was untreated)
- Migraine with aura
- An increase in the frequency, intensity, and duration of migraine attacks
- People with migraine who are under 30 years old
Suicide Warning Signs
- Talking or writing about death (“I wish I were dead/hadn’t been born”)
- Getting the means to attempt suicide (stockpiling pills; buying a firearm)
- Giving away important possessions
- Talking about feeling like a burden to other people
- Reckless behavior and/or increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Extreme social withdrawal or isolation
- Making calls or visits to others to say goodbye
- Thoughts of hopelessness (that things will never get better in the future)
- Noticeable changes in mood, routine, or personality
What To Do About Dangerous Thoughts
If you have suicidal thoughts, it’s important to talk to someone about it. Start with someone you trust, who knows how to listen to you and makes you feel safe. Tell your doctor, who can help address any underlying depression with appropriate treatment. A therapist is also an invaluable resource to help you sort out your feelings. Any of the above can also help you come up with a written crisis plan for you to reference when your suicidal thoughts become too much to bear. A crisis plan could include:
- Calling the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- Texting HOME to 741741 for 24/7 crisis support
- Calling your local suicide/crisis hotline
- Calling or spending time with a trusted social support
- Make plans with friends and loved ones; have them remind you of reasons to live
- Positive, reassuring self-talk (“This is temporary,” “I am safe”)
- Prayer or mindfulness/meditation apps
- Engaging in physical activity such as going for a walk or stretching
- Engaging in enjoyable hobbies (read a book, play with a pet)
- Making your environment safe (get rid of any firearms, pills, other weapons)
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, know that you are loved, valuable, and worthy. Pain and migraine depression can play tricks on the mind to make you think your unhappiness will never end, but don’t believe it. With help, you can overcome your suicidal feelings. If you are considering acting on suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately by going to your nearest hospital, or by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.