Richard G. Petty, MD

Migraine and Bipolar Disorder

Back when the world was new, I cut my teeth in migraine research, and migraine and other headaches were the topic of my first book. So I’ve always kept an eye out for new developments.

There’s an interesting case report from India, about a nineteen year old who developed mild mania as part of the aura or warning of his attacks. This sort of case is interesting for what it might be able to teach us about each illness. It is also good for us to know that bipolar disorder is highly co-morbid: it is associated with many other illnesses apart from migraine:
1.    Anxiety disorders
2.    Substance abuse disorders
3.    Attention deficit disorders
4.    Personality disorders
5.    Impulse control disorders
6.    Eating disorders
7.    Insulin resistance
8.    Obesity
9.    Diabetes mellitus
10.  Cardiovascular diseases
11.  Pain disorders

This is why diligent clinicians are always on the lookout for bipolar disorder: if it is missed and remains untreated, it can cause havoc: suicide attempts, damaged relationships, substance abuse and general misery.

Migraine is one of the vascular headaches that is occasionally associated with an array of other vascular problems, like Raynaud’s phenomenon, ischemic heart disease and stroke. But the aura is something else altogether. For many years it was thought that the migrainous aura was a result of a reduction in blood flow to regions of the cerebral cortex. Almost 25 years ago that was shown to be inaccurate. It is due to a release of witches’ brew of excitatory and inhibitory amino acids in the cortex. It is highly likely that the release of excitatory amino acids is the explanation for the manic symptoms.

Migrainous mania is evidently rare, but apart from visual disturbances, I’ve seen all sorts of strange auras: sudden food cravings; intense sweating; extreme irritability and many other things besides.

The treatment of migraine still revolves around avoidance or modulation of triggers, pain relief and prophylaxis. The big change in recent years has been the increasing amount of experience and small amount of evidence indicating the value of non-pharmacological approaches like spinal manipulation, temporomandibular joint adjustment, acupuncture, the tapping therapies and homeopathy.

To an integrated practitioner, the key is to understand the problem as more than just headache: we can guide a person to see the problem in its broader context, as a challenge designed to find a path toward inner wellness. We also see it as a process that has meaning and purpose and is a Divinely inspired invitation to grow spiritually and as an individual.

That may sound a lot for a headache, but it is the best possible way to triumph over the problem!

“The cure of the part should not be attempted without treatment of the whole.”
–Plato (Athenian Philosopher, 428-348 B.C.E.)

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About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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