CBT for Migraine?

Recently, I was prescribed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) by a very proficient neurologist a few weeks ago. She feels I have PTSD from the car accident (2004) that further aggravated my migraines and turned them into Hemiplegic Migraine (-like, we are still debating that diagnosis) and later causing non-epileptic seizures (NES).

I definitely deal with these migraines chronically and stress is a very BIG trigger for these events. With CBT, we feel I will be able to get these episodes under control by managing my stress levels and reacting differently to both physical stress and emotional stress.

What do I mean by physical stress? Well, when I am stressed emotionally (both good and bad stress) I trigger complex migraines, which is a physical reaction. If my migraine pain becomes severe enough to trigger a non-epileptic seizure, I have physically stressed my body to react this way. So it’s a catch 22. I have basically triggered the non-epileptic seizures physically by triggering the migraine emotionally. Talk about a double whammy!! Not all of my migraines are triggered by stress, some are triggered by physical movement or overactivity. Some by weather changes. I don’t know the effect of CBT in those cases, but if I could manage just one trigger, my life would substantially change.

For now I am keeping my migraine levels low enough to not trigger NES with Vimpat, BUT, I still have a migraine EVERY DAY. The goal is to not have a migraine at all, right? Right! SOOOOO, next step is to attack this thing at all directions. I am starting physical therapy, CBT therapy (ever wonder why we write “CBT therapy” when Therapy is part of the name?? yea me too!), stick to a strict low-carb diet (I chose the Ketogenic diet), and medication intervention. In my case, medication intervention includes Vimpat (originally an epilepsy medication, but really helps to keep my migraines under a pain level of 5 most of the time) and soon, Botox injections.

I recently stumbled upon an article about CBT and Migraine written by one of my Facebook friends for HealthCentral. I hope you take time to read through it. It gave me great insights to why my doctor felt this would be the best avenue for me. I look forward to my first appointment…which hasn’t been arranged yet. I found out my city and surrounding cities DO NOT have a certified CBT specialist. How sad is that?! With that in mind, my family and I are considering moving to a more populated area with more services for people like me. Migraine and it’s associated complexities have really impacted our lives. We aren’t free to live like a typical family of four. Anxiety is a major part of our lives when it comes to my symptoms, we just never know if one of my more sever events warrants a trip to the ER or not. It’s a delicate battle we all face.

Keep smiling 😊

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