Anyone who lives with migraines understands the pain and anguish that is associated with them. Not only is the pain itself unbearable at times, but the entire experience can leave you tired and depleted. It is only natural for people to react differently to migraines,from feeling tired and hungry to irritable and just plain sad. After a migraine attack, you may feel out of sorts or even depressed. This is completely normal and something that many people face on a daily basis.

Depression is very common among migraineurs, with three or four out of every 10 people with migraines suffering from depression. Similarly, fatigue is also a common symptom that many people experience – and I’m not just talking about during a migraine attack. Today, I would like to look at some of the reasons why migraines can be both exhausting and depressing.

Postdrome and the Link Between Migraines and Fatigue

I’ve talked a lot about the different stages of a migraine, including aura and prodrome, and research indicates these stages can be indicative of how you feel before, during, and after a migraine attack. Another stage that isn’t discussed as much is called postdrome, which many refer to as the “migraine hangover.” As you may have guessed, this stage comes after the migraine attack, leaving sufferers with the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Dizziness
  • Bodyaches
  • Hardtime concentrating

People who experience postdrome report feeling tired, depressed, or just plain off in the days following the attack.While there is no single cause of postdrome, it is believed that it occurs as aresult of changes in activity and blood flow. I would like to also point outthat although postdrome can lead to fatigue, there are other causes of feelingtired and drained following a migraine.

Migraines are extremely tough on the body, both emotionally and physically. When you go through something like this, it is only natural for the body to retreat and experience exhaustion. Adrenal fatigue syndrome has to do with how the body responds to stress, doing a great deal of damage to the body if you are someone who suffers from migraines. This could also help explain why many migraineurs experience fatiguesurrounding a migraine attack.

How Dopamine Levels Can Affect Migraines

A recent study uncovered, migraine attacks may be linked to dopamine levels. Dopamine is often referred to as the brain’s ‘feel-good neurotransmitter’ and is responsible for regulating emotions, motivation, and sensory perception. In this study, researchers discovered that the dopamine levels during migraine attacks were quite low, as compared to the stable dopamine levels in people without headaches.

When dopamine levels fall, it can have a huge impact on your overall mood and disposition. If the brain is not sending the right signals and the body isn’t getting the dopamine it needs to remain energized and mentally clear, it can leave you tired, withdrawn, and depressed. This information is incredibly beneficial and has given us crucial information to better understand the ‘why’ behind many migraine sufferers’ symptoms and reactions.

Knowing Your Triggers is Step One

All of this information leads us to this point. The best way to get a handle on your migraines and find treatments and solutions that work for you is by knowing your triggers and signs. I encourage you to keep a journal and write down how you feel in the moments leading up to a migraine, during the attack, and after. This information will help you and your doctor determine if there is a pattern and what some of the triggers may be.

If you find yourself feeling depressed or tired surrounding a migraine attack, know that you are not alone and that this journey is one that many are trying to conquer. It may be a good idea to find a functional medicine practitioner near you to help you manage symptoms and regain your energy.


The Migraine Foundation: Depression and Migraine

The Migraine Foundation: Science of Migraine – How to Deal with Postdrome Migraine Symptoms and Fatigue Migraine Again: Why Migraines Make You Tired and Sad