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Can a migraine trigger or imitate psychosis?
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Can a migraine trigger or imitate psychosis?

Bear with me a moment while I give some history. My daughter began seeing auras at the age of 4. Headaches began with puberty (no menses yet) at age 11, sometimes migraines and sometimes, I think, tension headaches. She will be 13 next month. She is a self motivated over-acheiver: always does the hardest projects, turns them in early and then does extra credit on top of it; she was in National Middle School Honor Society; active in clubs; never had a piano lesson, but taught herself the difficult version of Feur Elise and other pieces beginning at age 10. The past 2 months she has complained about forgetfulness, she will read for 1/2 an hour and not remember what she read; she'll be doing math problems and suddenly forget how to solve them which leads to a "melt down". She has been having an increasing number of melt downs in which she becomes tearful, refuses to talk, and her legs and arms will jerk. These last 45 min. to an hour. She no longer qualifies for Nat'l Honor Roll due to a B and a C, which she is stressed over. Her dad and I are divorced and she and her two sisters had some big drama at his house a week ago.

One week ago she was quietly watching TV when she became upset. She began wringing her hands and her clolthes, pacing, became tearful, seemed disoriented, and then began insisting that first her dad, then her grandpa, then her uncle were either hurt or in danger and she needed to get to them. She wanted to get out of the house. After walking outside for awhile, she refused to go back into the house - she stated that she was not allowed to go home. I took her to the dr. who thought it was a stress reaction. When taking her home, she became increasingly upset and didn't settle down until she later fell asleep. She had two similar, yet milder episodes during the week and another episode as intense as the first today. Todays episode began after she called me from school to pick her up, she was anxious because she had been shaking and couldn't stop, she was dizzy, stated that sounds were 10x louder than normal, and she was nauseated. All sx she'd complained of before. She had a full blown episode within an hour. She doesn't remember anything that happened afterwards. I worked as support staff in an acute psych facility for 6 1/2 yrs., she definately acts psychotic. Does anyone know of a relationship between migraines and psychosis?
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Hi,

Your daughter appears to be a very bright and sweet child. Apparently ,I can sense that she is also very sensitive. You have posted glimpses of the current family situation and I believe that these changes and tension in her home life may be affecting her deeply. She may be under a lot of stress and this manifests as her symptoms.

With regards to your question on whether migraine and psychosis are associated, here are some url’s that have mentioned studies on certain psychiatric disorders and migraine as an associated condition:

“Compared to the patients without migraine (n = 49), the patients with comorbid migraine (n = 53) had a higher frequency of bipolar II disorder (43% vs. 10%), a lower frequency of bipolar I disorder (11% vs. 33%), an approximately equal frequency of unipolar depressive disorder (45% vs. 57%) and a higher frequency of affective temperaments (45% vs. 22%). The migraine patients also had a greater number of anxiety disorders (3.0 vs. 1.9) and a higher frequency of panic disorder and agoraphobia.”
Source:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12587198?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum


“There is a strong genetic predisposition to the psychiatric disorder of affective psychosis along with a dominant pattern of migraine in the family, which suggests a genetic connection between migraine and affective psychosis.”
Source:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12116273?ordinalpos=4&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

There may be an association present between migraines and psychosis but there is no definite or established data on this as far as I know. I do suggest that you have your daughter assessed by a psychiatrist. I can sense that she is deeply troubled. A seizure disorder also needs to be ruled out so a baseline EEG and CT scan may also be necessary.

Continue to support her and be gentle with her. She needs all the support and understanding now.

Do keep us posted.
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I am not a doctor; I'm a psychotherapist who has been plagued by migraine all her life. My therapeutic training & experience are the only reason I sm alive right now. Your daughter's mental health issues are probably not at all due to the divorce, although stress makes migraine much worse. My migraine, my great aunt's migraine, & my son's (he's now 14) migraine are all accompanied by affective disturbance. It is known that migraine disrupts the uptake of the neurotransmitter seratonin in the migraineur's brain, but the exact form and action of this disruption seems to vary in individuals. In my case, I get "affective aura",  a sudden deep depression - despite a happy normal life, I feel suddenly and irretrievably suicidal. I used to have to write myself notes to deal with this, & I still need them sometimes. The feeling passes in 1-3 hours, just like someone  'flipped a switch'. &!I am myself again.  A few minutes later the pain hits, like an icepick thru the eye. My aunt had affective aura as well, but hers consisted of unspeakable homocidal irritation. She hated the world & everyone in it for a few hours until the headache hit. My son is affected post migraine, & his depression comes on after the headache is gone - he is clumsy, confused, can't read or concentrate; is depressed & despairing, feels hopeless, with a keen sense of dread. Therapy will help- certainly with family stress, but also in learning to cope with migraine, which is pain twice as bad as childbirth (believe me, both my births have been difficult, but I've had migraines far, FAR worse..) & its debilitating disruption of ordinary life. Certainky get her a good theralist, but I also suggest you hook up with a neurologist who specialises in migraine -- and make contact with your nearest migraine charity. I've found these to be a lifesaving help - they know about things that doctors often don't because they hear it all, & can be incredibly supportive. This is probably full of smelling pistakes (I'm writing it on my phone), so please pardon them. I wish you and your family the very best.
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