Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Migraine & Depression Focus for 2013

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Sometimes at the beginning of a new year I set resolutions or, more frequently, attainable goals for myself. Things like reading a certain number of books or completing a certain number of finished knitting projects.

But considering how much I've been struggling with depression, I'm going to keep it simple and focus on two important things for the first part of 2013.

First, I'm working on doing the things that help me management my depression. Second, I'm finding out more about a condition called idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) and taking steps to find out if I have it.

I have a few things in mind that will help me continue become steadier with my depression. I already know the things that help me keep my mental health stable, but sometimes struggle to do them. That's sort of the insidious nature of depression, though, isn't it? The things that help are the hardest to do.

(1) Return to therapy and go on a regular basis. I'm starting with once a week and when I feel ready I'll reduce it to twice monthly then monthly. I went for the first time in ages earlier this week.

(2) Attend book club as often as possible. Sometimes I miss book club, which I really enjoy, because my migraines make it impossible for me to get there. Other times I don't go because the depression monster is slapping the crap out of me. I want to make myself go when it's just the depression and anxiety keeping my away.

(3) Attend a local knitting group. There's an informal knitting get together on Saturday afternoons that would be perfect for my schedule. It's close to my house and since my husband works on Saturdays I'm free to attend without missing out on our time together. The first one is this Saturday, and I hope to make it.

I'm also working to learn more about IIH (aka Pseudotumor cerebri) and taking the steps to find out whether I have it.

IIH is a condition of elevated spinal fluid pressure in the brain. Either the body in someone experiencing IIH produces too much cerebrospinal fluid or does not absorb it well. If left untreated it can lead to blindness. IIH most commonly occurs among overweight women of child bearing age, but can occur in someone of any age, gender or weight.

Symptoms such as blurred vision, tinnitus (a ringing, whooshing or roaring sound in the ears), double vision, nausea and periodic vision loss are commonly associated with IIH. Many patients with IIH also have swelling of the optic nerve, known as papilledema.

I'm overweight, have papilledema and experience blurred vision and nausea, but have never been screened for IIH.

The only way to verify a presumptive diagnosis of IIH is by conducting a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to measure the pressure of the patient's spinal fluid.

Treatment options include drawing off spinal fluid to reduce the pressure in the brain and medication. Repeated lumbar punctures to keep the fluid at a more manageable pressure may also be necessary.

If I am diagnosed with IIH it could provide an explanation for the fact that I've never responded to any preventive medication or treatment for chronic migraine in the past 10 years. I see my local neurologist on January 24th to discuss being evaluated for this condition. Wish me luck!

Pseudotumor cerebri
Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension
Migraine Comorbidities: Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.