Hi everyone,
I am somewhat new to this forum. I have all the symptoms you describe here. My doctor just suggested that I start taking an antidepressant. I’m a little worried about taking it. Would those of you who are on an antidepressant say that it has improved your condition? Also, what were your most common side effects from taking them (I know this will obviously vary with each person and medication)?

Basically there are a few types of meds that one can take for preventative meds for Migraine. Anti Convulsants, Anti depressants, and beta blockers, and calcium channel blockers. Most of the time, the doctors choose which one is best for you based on your “other” conditions…as most of the meds work about the same for the migraine part. If you are depressed at all, or have comorbid anxiety, an antidepressant will be prescribed. That is what happened to me. WHich one they choose is a crap shoot really…you have to try it to find out if it will work for you. It’s a painstaking process, one which I’m still trying to figure out.
But that being said, it has given me my life back…not the normal life I had, but def better than the sinkhole I was in with this stuff.

Did your doctor say which med he wants you to try? Typically for this, most docs will rx a tricyclic medication, or effexor. I have heard of good results from some with Paxil, Celexa and Zoloft. Depends on what’s going on with your neurotransmitters. And yes, there are side effects from all of them…they vary depending on person, dose, length of time n them etc…

I have spent a lot of time reading up on this stuff, and trialing several…I’m open to any questions you might have if I can help…

Hi Michael
I am on a low dose tricyclic anti-depressant - Dosulepin - but I am not depressed, nor have I had depression. It is prescribed for MAV and also the pain I experience from fibromyalgia. The only unwanted side effect I experience is constipation but that is easily resolved with diet and a daily magnesium supplement. It has helped my symptoms along with diet and lifestyle changes. Before finding the med that suited me, I tried Amytriptilline which caused agitation and over sedation, Pizotifen which caused muscle jerks and weight gain, and Propanalol which caused intense fatigue but don’t be put off as people can and do react differently.
I’d say give medication a go and see what works for you.There are plenty to try just be prepared for a process of trial and error.
Good luck.

Thanks for the replies. My doctor has never heard of MAV but she thinks I have some variant of migraine. She thinks I have an underlying anxiety problem as well…which I believe occured after I developed MAV. She didn’t mention which one she would wants me to try but I will see her in another week.

Kelly - Which one has worked best for you? Are there certain ones that are supposed to be better for MAV? and are people with MAV supposed to start on a lower dose than other people taking antidepressants?

HI MIchael,
I have tried Lexapro, which I wasn’t able to tolerate at 5mg…got too revved up/increased anxiety. Then Remeron, which was great. Worked quickly with sleep/anxiety calmed down…helped the visual/dizzies, but then pooped out after a short time. I tried to take more, but like some meds, it is more activating at the higher doses. I couldn’t go up or past 15mg. The dose that worked best was 5mg (the pills are in 15mg tablets, so it was hard to get 1/3!!). I stayed on it for the sleeping benefit, but the depression/anxiety dizziness still there. I added Effexor at 1/3 capsule via Dr. Hain appt…it increased anxiety right away…stayed on it for 2 weeks, and was getting really uncomfortable so added propralonol…within days bottomed out with depression (frustration/fear). Stopped both Fex and PRop, and stuck with Remeron and added Amitryptaline. I tolerated it okay…got dizzier at first, but started low…5mg…worked up to 20mg…not much difference although mood got better. Visual stuff and anxiety (especially in am) still lurking…started Cymbalta…(this is where I titrated down off Remeron…without much downside)…started at 10 and worked up to 50mg over 2 months…at this point local neuro said drop Ami since I was still having sleep issues and anxiety…he told me to go up to 90mg Cymbalta, but Icouldn’t bring myself to do it. I was having trouble sleeping so taking sleep meds at night…
Whew…still with me? Okay, so then I stuck with just Cymbalta and Klonapin as needed and still felt I needed something else. Local p-doc said to add Buspar. It helped anxiety fairly quickly, but made dizziness worse. Can a girl get a break or what?? So, stuck with Buspar for about 3-4 months, and then the anxiety broke through…so I figured it wasn’t really doing too much and titrated down…no problems there.
so now I’m on Cymbalta at 40 (20mg twice a day) and klonapin as needed, which is seeming to be more often these days.
I see my pdoc tomrrow and I think we may talk about trying neurontin…
I have had some good days and when the anxiety breaks through, I get so disappointed…like I think I’m getting over it, and then Bam…I realize it’s another battle…
I realize that we are all so different chemically, and that is why one thing works for one of us, but not another …yet I still read everyones med stories and look for that magic bullet…I just want to feel normal again. Is that the mantra here or what?? :slight_smile:
Good luck!

crikey Kelley that’s some list!

Kelley - I’m sorry you have had such a rough time finding medications that will work. How would you describe your dizziness? And your anxiety? I’m sure it is similar to mine. Would you say the cymbalta has helped you at all? Also, I have a crazy schedule right now I’m worried that if I start taking an antidepressant that the side effects will interfere too much. My doctor said the side effects should go away after like 4 to 5 days on the med but im worried that it will last longer?

my dizziness is mostly lightheadedness and visual issues in that I don’t like looking at patterns/stripes, shutters etc…seems worse when I look down, and lighting can be tricky…flourescents make it worse…I have always said something is off with my vision, and went to 3 eye doctors, including a neuro-opthamologist, and my eyes are fine. It’s something to do with how my brain takes in my vision. It’s never spinning or walking on pillows or anything like that. My balance is quite good.
Ive done some research and for those who are interested in finding out the organic stuff behind this visual stuff…I believe it has something to do with a particular serotonin subreceptor site…the 5-ht2…this particular receptor is an excitatory receptor (read: anxiety) and also has a big influence over the visual cortex. If you google 5-ht2 and start reading it, it has a highlighted “visual cortex” and you can click on that for more info. It’s all on wikipedia. I’m going to email Dr. Hain and see if he has any insight.
Interestingly, Pizotofin is an antagonist at the 5ht2 site…meaning it subdues it…why I think it helps many people.
Remeron is also an antagonist at this site, and it helped me immediately with both visual and anxiety issues…but then pooped out. Boo!!!
So, my anxiety is, in my opinion, really related to my health, my worry about my health, and my vision…when my vision makes me dizzy, the anxiety pops. I do know that Klonapin helps both dizziness and anxiety.
The cymbalta has helped…and was the only med I’ve been able to stick with for a year now…I’m functional and mood better, but still having need for Klon…wish I didn’t. Between the two they give me relief in the 90% range…
My side effects with Cymbalta were minimal…but I was also on Ami at the time…the Klonapin took care of the se’s and I did have trouble sleeping, but adding 5htp (supplement at 100mg) and melatonin at night really helped.


My doctor just suggested that I start taking an antidepressant. I’m a little worried about taking it. Would those of you who are on an antidepressant say that it has improved your condition?

You’ll find that most people on here take an antidepressant of some kind. Either a tricyclic which tend to have more side effects and SSRIs. The most effective SSRIs seem to be Cipramil and Zoloft. Dr Hain claims Effexor is great but I haven’t seen the numbers anecdotally to see how that is so. But with all of these types of meds, you may have to trial a few until one suits you.

Side effects range from increased anxiety, to insomnia, to reduced sex drive and weight gain. Side effects are generally proportional to dose and the good news is that some find that a low dose does the job thus avoiding the side effects.


Hi Michael,

Did your doctor specify which anti depressant he/she wants you to try? They all seem to have their own “favourites”. I’m on Prothiaden/Dothep (a tricyclic) and the maximum dose (150mg). I’m lucky that I seem to tolerate this drug very well and don’t have any awful side effects. I wouldn’t get too hung up about the side effects - you won’t know until you try.

Good luck!

Thanks guys for the respones. Scott - When you say does the job. Do you mean treating the anxiety or the dizziness. I do have both but I feel the dizziness brings on the anxiety. From looking things up online it doesnt say SSRIs are supposed to be effective for migraines?

Victoria - My doctor hasnt said which one yet. I have an appointment coming up soon. My doctor is not familiar with MAV and she is trying to treat the anxiety part and hope the dizziness will disappear when I take the meds. I’m worried that she doesnt know a lot about it so she will start me on a high dose. Do you all usually take a lower dose then what most ppl would take it at?

Thanks, Michael

Hi Michael,

If you’re Googling SSRIs or other anti depressants you’re not likely to find anything saying they can be used to treat migraine. As far as I’m aware this remains an “off label” treatment for migraine.

The other thing to keep in mind is that most doctors, like most of the regular population, think of migraine as confined to horrific headaches. We migraineurs know better. A substantial minority (which includes me) rarely if ever have headache as a symptom of migraine. So, the short story is you need to educate yourself about migraine (this board is great and there are some good books too) and try and find a doctor who specialises in this area. Where are you located? Someone on the board may be able to recommend someone in your area.