The Migraine Personality

Is there such a thing as a migraine personality? For many years, headache patients were thought to have a certain personality type, indeed it was (and still is in some circles) called the "Migraine Personality."

So what is that? Well this type of person was described as a thin, white upper class female who was neurotic, anxious and controlling. Lovely. Kind of sounds insulting doesn't it?

If you examine this a little more closely, what was happening was that many doctors noticed the high association of anxiety and depression with migraine.

migraine personality, panic Well today we know it is true that 85% of all migraineurs have anxiety and depression, that doesn't mean that they are all control freaks, but controlling does tend to make up part of the migraine personality.

What is really happening is that many headache sufferers have poor coping skills. When confronted with stress they do not know how to relax, get away or rationalize the stress. Instead they try to control it or become emeshed in the situation. The result is a headache which is the brain's way of trying to distract the you from the situation.

Is This A Personality Disorder?

Many times when people hear the words "personality trait" they assume this means a personality disorder. This is far from the truth. We all have personality traits and behaviors of one kind or another. This makes up who we are. Each of use has one or two traits from one or two of the specific listed personality disorders. Yes each of us. However, you must have many of the traits within one disorder to diagnosed with a true disorder.

Here are the classic personality disorders with a link to more information about each if you are interested.

  • Paranoid Personality Disorder.

This is exactly what it sounds like. People who are paranoid are suspicious of others around them and believe that they are being persecuted. They feel that everything and everyone is "out to get them". As a result they are cold, distant and fearful of relationships.

  • Schizoid Personality Disorder.

This person has a tendancy to daydream most of the time. They are very introverted, avoid others and seem cold and distant. They spend time in their own thoughts and do not interact with others.

  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

This is the bizarre behavior person who is labeled 'eccentric'. They often dress inappropriately, are extremely anxious in social situations and may often talk to themselves. They also express paranoia and may tell people they are 'special' because they can predict the future.

  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

A narcissistic person is totally self-absorbed and demands attention to self. They have no empathy for others and express a cold attitude to others in need. Often called the 'Scarlett O'Hara Personality' when applied to women, they have an intense need to be the center of attention at all times.

  • Borderline Personality Disorder.

This is the personality disorder that can become violent at times. They swing between highs and lows and a significant percentage may also have bipolar disorder. They have high impulsivity which increases their risk of suicide. They tend to think in terms of 'all or nothing' extremes which carries over to relationships. They are either very clingy and dependant or they dispise someone over a small issue.

  • Anti-social Personality Disorder.

Of all the personality disorders, this is the one associated with the most violence. Many of these people are incarcerated and have a history of legal problems. The act impulsively against others with no regard for societies rules and regulations. They are callous and most of the time have no remorse regarding their actions.

  • Avoidant Personality Disorder.

Again, this sounds just like what it is. This person avoids interpersonal relationships and social occations. They have few friends outside of immediate family. Anxiety plays a role here as they tend to worry about being shy with others and worry about saying the wrong thing socially. They tend to be timid and fearful.

  • Dependant Personality Disorder.

I think we have all met someone like this. Someone who depends on others to do everything for them, clings to an interpersonal relationship and are fearful of the relationship ending. They cannont make any decisions for themselves, even small ones such as what to order at a restaurant. They cannot function independantly and is more common in women than men.

  • Obsessive Complusive Personality Disorder.

Of all the disorders that could apply to a migraine personality, this one could be it. OCD means a constant need to strive for perfection. They tend to take on more and more tasks until overwhelmed, yet cannot let go of anything because of a need to control things. They tend to weigh all options over and over again and as a result cannot make a decision.

You can read more at Mental Health America.

In relation to a migraine personality, migraineurs tend to want to control things because of low level anxiety. They do tend to have some neurosis, which is constantly ruminating about things. They have difficulty letting go of these thoughts and constantly refocus on them. As a result they can't move forward in relationships. The constant worry provokes migraines.

So the key here is basically to learn better coping skills to life stressors. We all have stress but the idea is to learn to handle it better. Get away from the situation that is causing the stress. If your job is killing you, seriously think about what you are doing and why. People with personality issues CAN make changes as this is considered a behavioral disorder, not a severe mental illness. Counseling and looking at lifestyle goes a long way in changing a migraine personality.

So it is really true, lifestyle changes can truly change your pain syndrome, but nothing changes until you do!

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