Unlike tension headaches and other cephalalgia conditions, migraines tend to manifest themselves in stages. Medical researchers have identified four distinct migraine stages; however, this does not mean that all patients will go through all of them during an episode. The stages are:
The final migraine stage is not necessarily painful, but it can be very dispiriting. The postdrome stage is often referred to as a hangover because some of its symptoms are similar to what happens after a long night out at a bar. The worst part of the postdrome stage is that it can send some patients into a depression.
What Happens During the Postdrome Stage of a Migraine
Most migraine patients enjoy relief as soon as they get over their headache or cephalalgia stage. This relief, however, can also be accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Lack of energy
- Cloudy thinking
Although pain and nausea are not likely to develop during the postdrome, some patients feel very exasperated by the debilitating symptoms. Research into this final migraine stage started about ten years ago, and there is not too much evidence of physiological causes. Some of the migraine hangover feelings may be related to the pharmaceutical treatment taken by migraine patients during the headache stage, but this is far from conclusive.
The postdrome symptoms are generally easier to manage than the other migraine stages. The treatment focus is on preventing a descent into depression; to this end, the following actions are recommended:
- Hydration: Some migraine patients find it difficult to drink water during the most intense period of their headaches. This dehydration caused by migraine may be one of the main causes of the postdrome stage.
- Rest: The human body burns a lot of energy trying to fight headaches. Whenever possible, migraine patients should shake off their postdrome feeling of weakness with plenty of rest.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) relief: Some physicians recommend taking aspirin or ibuprofen in measured quantities during the postdrome stage. In some cases, however, the hangover may have been caused in part by excessive doses of these medications; for this reason, migraine patients should check with their doctors prior to self-medicating.
- Vitamins and minerals: Some migraine patients report feeling much better after they get over their headaches when they take supplements such as magnesium and riboflavin.