Migraine Fatigue is Not Lazy, it Drains My Energy

migraine fatigue

Migraine fatigue is not laziness. Migraine is a neurological condition characterized by severe headaches, often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and fatigue. The fatigue associated with migraine is a result of the neurological processes involved in the condition, not a lack of effort or motivation on the part of the individual experiencing it.

Migraine fatigue can be debilitating and can significantly impact a person’s ability to perform daily activities. It’s important for both individuals experiencing migraine and those around them to understand and acknowledge the physical and mental toll that migraine can take. It’s a medical condition that requires empathy, support, and, in some cases, medical intervention to manage effectively.

If you or someone you know is dealing with migraine, it’s advisable to seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and management strategies. Understanding and raising awareness about migraine can contribute to a more supportive and compassionate environment for those affected by this condition.

Migraine Fatigue

Migraine and fatigue often go hand in hand, and many individuals who experience migraine also report significant fatigue before, during, or after an attack. Here are some key points to understand about the relationship between migraine and fatigue:

  • Pre-Attack Fatigue: Some people experience fatigue or a feeling of low energy before the onset of a migraine attack. This is often referred to as a “prodrome” symptom and can serve as a warning sign for an impending migraine.
  • During Migraine Attack: The intensity and duration of a migraine can be physically draining. The pain, coupled with symptoms like nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and disrupted sleep, can contribute to a sense of fatigue.
  • Post-Attack Fatigue: After a migraine episode, individuals may feel exhausted and need time to recover. This postdrome phase sometimes referred to as the “migraine hangover,” can involve lingering fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and a general feeling of being unwell.

Causes of Fatigue in Migraine

  • Neurological Factors: Migraine is a neurological events that involve changes in brain activity. These alterations can contribute to fatigue.
  • Disrupted Sleep: Migraine can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to inadequate or poor-quality sleep, which in turn can contribute to fatigue.
  • Pain and Stress Response: Dealing with chronic pain during migraine can be physically and emotionally draining. The body’s stress response may also contribute to fatigue.

Managing Migraine-Related Fatigue

  • Identifying Triggers: Understanding and managing triggers can help reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines, potentially alleviating associated fatigue.
  • Medication Management: Working with healthcare professionals to find effective migraine medications can help control symptoms and minimize the impact on daily life.
  • Stress Management: Stress can contribute to both migraines and fatigue. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation can help manage stress.
  • Regular Exercise: Gentle, regular exercise can help improve overall energy levels and reduce stress. Consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise regimen, especially if migraines are severe.
  • Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is important, as dehydration can contribute to both migraine and fatigue.
  • Rest and Recovery: Recognizing the need for rest during and after a migraine attack is crucial. Giving the body time to recover can aid in reducing fatigue. Adequate rest and consistent sleep patterns are essential. Establishing a regular sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine can improve the quality of sleep.

Medical Consultation

  • Regular follow-ups with a healthcare professional are crucial to monitor the effectiveness of treatment and make any necessary adjustments.
  • In some cases, a neurologist or headache specialist may be consulted for more specialized care.

What My Migraine Fatigue Looks Like

I constantly fear being seen as lazy when I live with chronic migraine. I run a marathon, and some days, an Iron Man inside my body every day. Hence, I am a stay-at-home mom, and I work HARD. I think my job is one of the most under-respected jobs. Then again, I was a teacher and got paid nearly nothing to change children’s lives. So I’m used to it.

I am physically active all day. I carry a 25+ pound child on my hip while I do dishes, laundry, vacuum, cook, and clean. Then, I run errands, constantly getting kids in and out of the car and carrying a purse that might as well be luggage. I do swim lessons, library classes, play dates, art projects, playgrounds, walks, and bike rides—all of this while in varying pain and migraine fatigue.

It’s exhausting. I will say over and over and over again that pain is exhausting. It’s depressing and exhausting, but when I live with it daily, I cope and keep moving. I don’t know any better. I am tired, All…The..Time… My head pain makes me want to lie down constantly. It’s more than migraine fatigue. My neck and shoulder pain is never relieved from the heavy lifting. But mostly, it’s just this internal exhaustion of fighting. I don’t have laziness; it’s Migraine Fatigue!

Pain is Exhausting

My doctor once told me that my migraine attacks put my body in a fight-or-flight state. When I’m above a 7, my body succumbs to the pain, forcing me to become completely consumed with it. My old self flies away and gives in. When I’m at a 2-7, I fight. I’m not lazy. I’m the opposite. Many people think of me as sitting on the couch eating bonbons and watching my soap opera because I stay at home. A form of laziness, right?!

The stigma of migraine laziness is just another misconception. When I ask my husband to get me some water while I’m on the couch at the end of the day, I’m not lazy. I’m stopping the pain from rushing through me just because I’m going from lying down to standing up. He sits at a desk all day, and I’ve walked up and down the stairs 100 times. He doesn’t see me as lazy, but why does society?

I lay in bed with a million things rushing through my mind at night and sometimes in the morning before the rest of my house has awakened. My job is never done; I don’t get to be lazy but migraine fatigue exists. Between the mental battle of teaching a toddler patience, calming a tantruming 3-year-old, and my fight with migraine, I’m not sure how anyone would see me as anything but a warrior. Just tack on more stigma for those of us living with migraine. Chronic Laziness? HA! I’m a fighter!!!


It’s essential to work closely with a healthcare professional to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Keep open communication with your healthcare team to ensure that your treatment plan is effective and manageable.

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Sarah Rathsack

Sarah tells stories of My Migraine Life. Living life through Migraine consists of advocacy, treatment, prevention, and searching for health and happiness in a positive honest way. Her kids, husband, dog, family and friends motivate her to make a difference in the Migraine World.

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  1. authorjpsummers on June 25, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    I completely undetstand where you are coming from because I’ve heard the whole “must be nice to stay-at-home and watch soaps all day”

    Trust me, I’ll gladly go back to working 40+ hrs as a personal banker where I am mentally drained instead of physically.

    Great post!

  2. migrainepuzzlepieces on June 26, 2014 at 4:50 am

    You are anything but lazy! And anyone who thinks you are is insane! All that you mentioned is a lot for someone without chronic pain. You are definitely a warrior and a hero to your family.

  3. mymigrainelife on June 26, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Thank you!

  4. mymigrainelife on June 26, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Thanks for reblogging. People say really mindless things sometimes

  5. migrainepuzzlepieces on June 26, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    You’re welcome :)!

  6. mymigrainelife on September 8, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Reblogged this on My Migraine Life.

  7. Amy B. on September 18, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    OMG I am reading your “Lazy” entry and it is just like me. I fight through my pain everyday. Some days it’s worse than others and that’s when I hit a brick wall. It’s funny you mention the 7/10 pain constitutes “that’s it no more!!!” I am just like you. Once I get to a 7/10 pain I’m going to puke or I can no longer survive the day. I too am a SAHM with PTO, carpool, softball, drums but on the weekends. I’m a super nurse working 12 hour shifts Sat and Sun. I don’t want pity but I am sooooo glad I am not the only one that has these feelings. My prayers and good mojo goes out to you!

  8. mymigrainelife on September 18, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks for your comment Amy! I’m sorry you suffer like I do but it’s nice we can give each other comfort & support. It’s a hard thing to understand.

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