Millions of women suffer from migraines, and an overwhelming number of them have also experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), either from living in an abusive home or witnessing mental illness in a loved one. Listed below are some clues that help us understand the link between severe psychological trauma and migraine attacks.
Migraines are neurological- aren’t they?
It would be a misnomer to suggest that post-traumatic stress causes migraine headaches, as migraine disorder is actually a genetic neurological disease, and is not directly caused by stress.
However, scientists have acknowledged the existence of “migraine triggers,” certain factors outside of the brain that increase your chances of having a migraine attack and serve as obstacles to migraine management.
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Stress is one of the most powerful migraine triggers, and the most difficult to overcome. Other migraine triggers include hormone fluctuations, changes in weather, food ingredients, and bright lights.
PTSD and migraines
It has been established that victims of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse have higher rates of migraine attacks than those who have not suffered abuse.
About one quarter of people who seek help for chronic headaches such as migraines have suffered some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Even migraine sufferers who have not experienced PTSD have higher instances of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder than non-migraineurs, as such conditions are often comorbid with migraine disorder.
PTSD may be caused by:
- Child abuse
- Mental abuse
- Spousal abuse
- Violent death of a loved one
- Natural disaster
- Car accident
- Mental illness in the home
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Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Chronic body aches
- Chronic headaches
- Night sweats
- Vivid nightmares
- Panic attacks
- Anxiety disorder
- Deep depression
- Intense anger
In a nutshell
PTSD doesn’t cause migraines, but it does make them more likely to happen.
By practicing migraine trigger avoidance, while treating symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety, you may increase the number of migraine-free days and reduce the severity of migraines when they occur.
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Seek psychological therapy
- Cut back on caffeine, alcohol, and sweets
- Avoid migraine triggers in food
- Take natural vitamins, minerals and herbs that benefit migraines, depression, and anxiety
- Join a support group for PTSD or migraine sufferers
Do you have any questions or suggestions? Please leave your comments below.
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Like this? Read more:
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