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Girlfriend has migraines and possibly depression-don't know how to help


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My girlfriend (of 15 years) has always been the calm, psychologically strong one in the relationship until her grandmother died 5 years ago and she started having migraines. I think there is certainly a physical cause but there is also a psychological cause - she saw her grandmother every day and her grandmother, even at 85, had everything under control and was the most reliable person in my girlfriend's life (her parents are both dead). Now our son is a teenager and acting up, and treating her really badly. She's seen a million doctors and nothing is helping, the migraines are coming more frequently, and she's also getting depressed I think.

She is someone who gives everything of herself to other people. She's not a pushover, but she doesn't have an ounce of selfishness in her body, and it hurts her that other people do (including our kids, and me). She never gives herself a break, whether it's keeping up with friends or keeping the house perfectly clean (we live in Italy, and you will be shunned if your house is not perfectly clean at all times

Now I'm getting worried because the migraines are coming several times a month. Already for years she has had insomnia and now this. I don't know how long she can go on like this. I am on anti-depressants for anxiety, and I've suggested seeing a therapist to her, but she is extremely anti-medication. I can understand that, but I mentioned maybe just talking to a therapist, and she started crying and saying she won't spend the money for that. I make decent money, she works too and we can afford a therapist, but she just cannot bring herself to spend money or time on herself is what I think.

I also tell her that she never gets angry, and she should get angry sometimes, because I am not a perfect girlfriend either. I think repressed emotion also probably contributes to the migraines...

I really don't know how to help her. Any ideas would be great.

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First off, sounds like a really difficult situation to be in - things can only get better from here on


The main goal here is to make her happy and de-stress her.

You could help her by taking her out on fun trips as much as you can. Maybe go to for a walk together a couple of times a week? Exercise is a great way to help one feel good. And exercising with a friend it is a very social thing too.

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Stress can cause migraines, so can sensitivities to certain foods, like sulphates in red wine.


But, I also think that this is her body's way of trying to tell her something. Like she needs to slow down. She can't keep up doing everything she's doing and keep having migraines that incapacitate her. At some point, something is going to give and she'll have a complete breakdown. But, until she admits that she needs help, she's not going to accept it. It also sounds like she might have never grieved properly or fully and could be holding on to old wounds from everything she's lost, which is completely understandable.


Is there anything you can do to help out around the house more? Get the kids to help out more? Valentine's Day is coming up, you could get her some gift certificates for massages. Many people believe that if you go to therapy it means you're crazy. Maybe if you suggested couples' counselling you could get her to go?

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I have suffered chronic migraines for years. They are one of the world's most confusing illness and there is no "cure" so if she is suffering from them now, she probably will be for the rest of her life.


I know it's tempting to blame the sudden onset of migraines on the death of someone who she was close to (and certainly stress CAN cause migraines), migraines are also caused by changes in hormones and can start occurring at ANY point in life.


I didn't get them at all as a child, and then when I turned 18 I started getting them. I get them extremely frequently and there are all sorts of things that can trigger them.


Now the good news is that SOME of these triggers you can control and others, not so much.


Food and drink triggers are the easiest as long as you find out WHAT is triggering her. A lot of migraine sufferers CANNOT have caffeine in any way, shape or form (and for some it is the opposite). For me, caffeine is a major trigger so I avoid it. Alcohol in some forms as well can be a trigger (beer is not good for me and red wine is 100% out because of the tannens in the wine). Cheese and citrus fruits can also be a trigger (so apples, grapes, etc.) as can any foods with artificial sugars (like aspartame and splenda).


The key to figuring out what triggers you is to keep a food diary and write down when the corresponding migraines occur. Those can help weed out preventable triggers.


Other major triggers include either lack of sleep, disrupted sleeping patterns (so not getting to bed at the same time each night), or too much sleep. Also, if you are not getting proper neck or back support when you sleep this can cause migraines as well. It's good to have a proper pillow, not something cheap you got from Wal-Mart. Also, sleeping on anything less than a proper mattress will cause a migraine. You basically want to make sure you have a good bed, good pillow and that you get to bed each night at the same time and get the same amount of sleep.


3D movies can cause them, so try to avoid those if possible.


Also, obviously stress or high emotion can help trigger it...so you want to try to avoid that as much as possible.


Things you can't avoid: That time of the month. Unfortunately since migraines are hormonal and women tend to suffer them more than men, there is a direct link to a woman's period and migraines. It's called a menstrual migraine and they are pretty much impossible to avoid unfortunately.


Also, changes in weather patterns (such as pressure dropping) can also trigger migraines. Can't really avoid those either.


Ways to combat them: Drink TONS of water. Migraines can occur because of dehydration and the primary way to treat them is by getting as much water into the body as possible. Anti-inflammatories like Advil, etc. may help for some, but for more experienced migraine sufferers, they don't really do much good - that is when you need to get prescription medication. Usually most doctors will prescribe meds that have triptans in them (immitrex, zomig, relpax, etc.) They are not narcotic, but they do cause you to become very tired, and depressed as well as make you have to pee a lot.


The depression is likely not the symptom, but caused by the migraines. When you have nothing but pain every single day it really takes a toll on you psychologically. I don't know her personally but for me, when I felt depressed it was because I was suffering without any release for so long and any time I get into a migraine "cycle" (migraines that last for days and days) I still become very depressed.


Also, if she is on ANY kind of birth control it would be good for her to check with her doctor to see if it is high in estrogen as that can also trigger migraines. I had to switch to a different type of pill because it caused me to have more migraines.


I hope some of this helps. Migraines can be so so destructive. People don't understand them, and to most people they look down on sufferers, saying things like "it's just a headache".


Make sure you are supporting her constantly and there for her - that will mean the most to her. Also, there is a blog you might want to check out that can help link removed

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Thank you everyone for the suggestions. I think it is definitely a period migraine (and she just turned 45, so also perimenopause), but I think it also the psychological issues aggravate things. We actually go to the gym together a lot, for at least the past 7 years... and she is very outgoing and goes out a lot. My problem is I don't know how to get her to go easier on herself, to take a break sometimes.

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I have had migraines since I was about 23 so....about 24 years now. I have tried about every remedy there is to try on the planet. Nothing much works too well. However one remedy was not discussed yet. Ice cream!! Yes ,believe it or not ice cream. Apparently the brain freeze interrupts a migraine cycle. There is stuff on the Internet about it if you want to look it up. For me too very deep massage of the left side of my neck and shoulder blade works very well. I only suffer from left hemisphere migraines.


Something else that I don't believe was mentioned is that they are genetic. If you have one parent with migraines you have something like a 65% chance of each one of your children having them. My mother has migraines and has had them since she was three years old. My son also has migraines and has had them since he was six years old. My husband is an occasional migraine sufferer but by occasional I mean like once every 10 years. If both parents have migraines the children have almost 100% chance of inheriting them.


Going through menopause did not stop my mother's migraines. She is 68 and still has them. I expect to be just like her. So while going through menopause cures them for a lot of people it doesn't for everyone.


You mentioned depression I get very depressed when I have a migraine episode. The migraine cycle will actually change my mood. The excruciating pain doesn't help much either. Sometimes they are so painful I'm willing to jump under a bus and I have actually asked people to shoot me.


Prescriptions never helped me much. So I stopped taking them. I didn't want to pay $25 a pill for something that didn't work.


But some of my triggers include the weather ,not enough sleep ,certain scents like perfumes, and cleaners. Cigarette smoke, some foods such as onions, and red wine. Being sick with any illness whatsoever usually brings on a migraine for me. And extreme emotional upset is another trigger.

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