I was recently prescribed beta blockers for migraines as they have been getting out of control. As I started to research them, I discovered that they are also used a lot to treat anxiety and so I began to wonder if they would help me with that too.
I’ve suffered from migraines for as long as I can remember, the blinding pain on one side of my head and photo sensitivity meaning I missed a lot of school as a teen and I stumbled through my early 20s taking enough over the counter pain meds to sink a ship. One of the worst things was the nausea and vomiting, not dissimilar to morning sickness actually!
I had fixed braces at 13, and the dentist was a two hour drive away, I would usually get a migraine on the way home, probably due to the tightening and would almost always end up being sick before we got back, that was a time I remember them being particularly bad.
I tried, in no particular order, migraleave, sumatriptan, food exclusion, homeopathy, asprin, paracetamol, codeine, co-codamol, massage and I even looked into the piercing that is supposed to help. Turns out I don’t have enough of the necessary part of ear! Maybe that’s why I get them! Most took the edge off but stopped being effective after prolonged use.
They went away for a long period while I was pregnant and breastfeeding, leading me to believe that they are hormone driven. A couple of years ago, they returned. Slowly at first but then increasing steadily in frequency and ferocity, the first day being a day of snacking all day, then in the evening, the tell tale nag behind my eye, building to a pain that I can’t adequately describe, I suppose the best way would be to say it’s like someone is pulling hard on my optic nerve whilst simultaneously pushing a hot needle through my eyeball. Nice huh? The pain wasn’t limited to the eye but could also feel like a sledgehammer had struck me on the forehead. Occasionally you could feel a pulse where the pain was, which got scary! Sometimes it was accompanied by vomiting but usually just nausea and I would almost cry in bright light, even wearing sunglasses indoors.
The day after a migraine would be spent feeling exhausted and washed out, weak and fragile, sensitive to both light and sound, loud noises being the worse, not brilliant when you have two children.
The migraines got so regular that I was having one a week, sometimes two. As a busy Mum of two who also works from home, this really wasn’t good for me as I’d end up taking a lot of pills to try and combat them, with some of the pills giving me palpitations and making me so woozy that I would sit and stare at the wall with my mouth hanging open! At least I wasn’t in pain though I guess!
I had a whole host of blood tests that all came back normal and so the doctor suggested Beta Blockers. I was taken aback, I thought they were just for heart conditions in people that were much older then me, it was a little scary if I’m honest! After a little research, I noticed that they were often used to treat anxiety as well, and that anxiety can be linked to migraines. Although I thought I had my anxiety under control, I had been aware that it was getting a bit more noticeable.
I started on a dose of 80mg of propranolol once a day, (slow release), about a 5 weeks ago and in that time I have had one migraine. I am so amazed. I have had a couple of times where I felt the ‘pre-migraine munchies’ come on and the warning heavy head, but it hasn’t developed into anything more. I can’t tell you the relief!
And as a side effect, my anxiety has reduced so much that it is barely noticable. I can feel the familiar wave of panic rising as I think about my to do list for the day or the things I need to sort out for the children but then it sort of just ebbs away and I feel calm again. I think I am coping with things much better and as a result my temper flare ups have been much better as I’m less stressed about getting everyone out the door etc. We are still just as busy but I seem to care a bit less and as a result the atmosphere has been relaxed.
I can honestly say that migraines were ruining my life and the relief to be mostly free of them is overwhelming, I just hope it continues like this.
I am not a doctor or have any medical training whatsoever and I’m not suggesting this treatment would work for anyone else other then myself, I’m just sharing my experience. As with everything, seek advice from your GP to find out what would be suitable for you.