Migraine Triggers – Emotional Stress

Migraines can’t seem to make up their minds, which extreme of anything is a trigger. An attack can develop when you are either emotionally stressed to the max or having a perfectly serene day where it would seem that nothing can go wrong. Either way: Wham! Suddenly, there’s another attack. 

Back to one of my favorite practices: as a refresher, looking up the precise meaning of a word or expression, everyone’s favorite equivalent of Funk & Wagnall’s: A Google search, “Oxford Languages,” teaches us that “Stress” is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.”

Note: “…adverse OR very demanding circumstances” (my uppercase lettering and italics.) 

Have you ever heard that while we all expect to be drained of energy when experiencing difficult or sad life events, many are not aware that even positive stress can drain you of energy? Still in doubt? Anyone preparing for a wedding will be able to confirm that classic phenomenon. 

While the universe seeks equilibrium, migraine pain is signalling that something in your body needs to be corrected. By body, I include the mind, the intellect, the soul, the emotions, the spirit, and t he physical body from head to toe. Your existence is a more sophisticated movement than the best timepiece in the world. Migraine pain signals that you need to adjust one of its many moving parts. 

Dictionary.com defines “sane” as “showing reason, sound judgment, or good sense.” While a routine test in junior high school indicated I had a very high IQ, that high IQ went right out the window when I was undergoing a migraine attack. I remember one attack with pain so great, that I reasoned that balancing a heavy, sharp knife tip against my throbbing temple when I was lying down would bring some relief from pain. That distraction from the migraine did not last for long.

It’s like the joke of the patient complaining to his doctor that it hurt so much when he hammered his toe. When the doctor asked why on earth the patient would do such a thing, the latter protested: “Because it feels so good when I stop!”

Another migraine-influenced flash of brilliance occurred when I was briefly convinced that my eyeball hurt so much, that tearing out my eyeball would bring some relief from the intense pain. Thankfully, some shred of self-preservation prevented me from acting out. While sharing migraine experiences with other sufferers, I discovered I wasn’t the only person with such insane ideas! Isn’t it time you joined another club?

Doesn’t it sound like a good idea to periodically share these thoughts with a competent professional who will listen with compassion, recognize your bouts of temporary insanity, and feed your memory with other healthy thoughts that you can draw upon when you are undergoing paroxysms of pain?

As smart as you may be during pain-free days, at the moment when a migraine has you in its grip, believe me, the pain is very distracting. Migraine pain demands your full attention, and is jealous of any other thoughts that you may have that are not focused 100% on the pain experience.

Migraines can be so debilitating, that if enough attacks occur over a short period of time, that the sufferer may come conclude that the rest of their life will consist of such inexorable pain, that depressed thoughts or thoughts of discouragement will morph into suicidal thoughts.

When that happens, your mind becomes a liar, feeding you untruths. The reality is that you CAN and NEED TO take action to hit the brakes on the vicious pain circle.

So why not make life easier by seeking help from a trained professional who can teach you to develop an outlook on life, remind you of alternatives in your life and interactions with those around you, and remind you of better coping skills?

Thoughts… those intangible, ethereal, fleeting ideas, theories, or imaginations that we cannot grasp. Yet, while we still cannot hold and mold them in our hands, we can most definitely control them if we follow specific exercises once we are shown how. 

The advantage of a professional in the mental health field over, say, a family member, clergy or a friend is that the professional has undergone exact training in how to recognize the timeline, of what path you took to get you to where you are and to share with you ideas for trying a calmer, healthier way of living – a few tweaks that will make all the positive difference.

Someone in the clergy, statistically speaking, lacks the formal medical training to be of practical help.  And give your family member or friend a break – they witness your suffering and suffer along with you. If they knew how to help you relieve your pain, they would suggest it. They are as clueless as you are.

Time to get a fresh point of view from someone full of effective ideas. And what you learn, you can have the rewarding experience of teaching it to the next migraine sufferer you meet, the person who is where you used to be before you learned how to join the majority of the human population that is thankful they never experienced a migraine. 


  • Carla Piringer

    Related to noted medical professionals, afflicted with an inherited excruciating migraine condition, the author followed traditional medical and alternative therapies, now living migraine-free for over 35 years. She now shares her doctor-recommended method in her book to inspire sufferers to find significant pain relief.

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