Migraine headaches are recurrent headaches, often associated with nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light (photophobia), and sensitivity to sound (phonophobia). They can be quite debilitating, causing individuals to miss school or work and significantly compromising the quality of their lives.
Some patients experience an aura prior to their headaches. An aura is a signal that the migraine is going to occur relatively soon. An aura may involve seeing flashing lights, feeling dizzy, or other sensations. Although an aura occurs in only one-third of migraine patients, I have found that most patients’ headaches do not become severe that quickly. Even without an aura, patients usually experience the headache beginning, then gradually becoming worse over time.
Success Story: Medical Hypnosis for Migraines
Dr. Lazarus treated this 12-year old boy for migraine headaches. This video shows some of his sessions with Dr. Lazarus and includes a follow up with him 9 years after treatment with a note on how he still uses his learned skill of self-hypnosis.
Traditional treatment with medication includes:
- symptomatic (treating an active migraine)
- abortive (treating a migraine that is about to occur)
- preventive (using long-term medication to prevent migraines)
These medications often do not work and may have significant side effects. In fact, over the past few years, there have been a couple of major studies demonstrating that long-term preventative treatment for migraine is no more effective than placebo!
The most common side effects of headache medications include fatigue and cognitive clouding.
The Effectiveness Of Self-Hypnosis for Migraines
Self-hypnosis has been shown to be extremely effective not only in the treatment of migraines in children and adolescents, but also in preventing them. Studies have shown repeatedly that the use of self-hypnosis decreases the frequency, duration, and intensity of the headaches, thereby decreasing the amount of pain medication required for them.1,2
Furthermore, in patients who exhibit an aura before their migraines, the aura can be used as a signal to use the technique of self-hypnosis in order to abort the migraine. And, if a migraine does occur, patients can use self-hypnosis to decrease the discomfort and often make it go away completely, in a relatively short period of time.
Why depend on medication…when you can help yourself without it?
For children, adolescents, and adults, self-hypnosis has been shown to be extremely effective not only in treating migraines, but also in preventing them. During self-hypnosis, patients learn that they can teach their brains to talk to their bodies to gain even better control over the migraines.
Dr. Lazarus has found that his patients typically experience dramatic improvement after only 1 to 3 visits. And, because this technique involves no medication, there are no side effects.
Patients who use self-hypnosis to control their migraine headaches find that it works faster and better than medication!3
“Hypnosis meets the clinical psychology research criteria for being a well-established and efficacious treatment and is virtually free of side effects, risks of adverse reactions, and ongoing expense associated with medication treatments.”4
1. Olness K, MacDonald JT, Uden DL. Comparison of self-hypnosis and propranolol in the treatment of juvenile classic migraine. Pediatrics. 1987;79:593–597.
2. Sartory G, Muller B, Metsch J, Pothmann R. A comparison of psychological and pharmacological treatment of pediatric migraine. Behav Res Ther. 1998;36:1155–1170.
3. Kohen, D.P. (2010). Long-term follow-up of self-hypnosis training for recurrent headaches: What the children say. Int J Clin Exp Hypn, 58(4):417-32.
4. Hammond, DC. Intl. J of Clin and Exp Hypnosis,55(2):207-219, 2007.
37-year-old Woman with Chronic Migraines Story
In my early thirties, I began to suffer from chronic migraines. I would have at least 1 bad attack per week along with daily head pain. There was not much that would prevent my severe attacks, and I would have to cancel my plans, lay in bed in the dark, and not be able to parent my 2 small children. It really was awful and debilitating.
I started seeing a Pain Management doctor at Stanford and went through a series of triptan medication to help with my attacks but between my constant intake of Advil to now the triptan medication, I felt like I was always taking something for the pain. I would often suffer through the pain with an ice pack wrapped around my head just so I could take a break from the medication.
The beginning of 2021, I switched general doctors and it was then that my new doctor recommended I try hypnosis with Dr. Lazarus. I’ll be honest. At first, I was extremely skeptical. My doctor pushed me to try it and seeing as I had nothing to lose, and nothing else seemed to be helping my chronic pain, I decided to give it a go.
Dr. Lazarus is kind, patient and caring. He truly cares about his patients and only has one goal in mind – helping heal your pain and to manage the pain severity. He does not do hypnosis in the tv sensationalized way – where he swings a watch, and you are hypnotized, and then you are magically healed, or acting like a chicken. He has a unique way of teaching his patients how to self-hypnotize, using personalized experiences of his patients. It is almost akin to a deep, personalized meditation whereby you get into a trance of whole-body calmness. With only a series of 5 sessions, I can happily say that my migraine pain level has decreased by at least 50%, and that I no longer experience severe attacks where I am paralyzed by the pain. I still listen to my hypnosis sessions which Dr. Lazarus records, and the best part is that I can use my self-hypnosis techniques throughout the day to keep me calm and help tackle the many ups and downs of life. I would recommend anyone with chronic pain meet with Dr. Lazarus for medical hypnosis.