Migraine Triggers in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Published on: Modified on:



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.

Migraine Triggers in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)- Migravent

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.

Migraines, Women, and Depression: 9 Myths and Truths

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
  • Rape
  • Mental abuse
  • Spousal abuse
  • Violent death of a loved one
  • Natural disaster
  • Car accident
  • War
  • Mental illness in the home

Can Anxiety Attacks cause Migraines?

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic body aches
  • Chronic headaches
  • Night sweats
  • Vivid nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Phobias
  • Deep depression
  • Apathy
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • 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

Your turn!

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, Facebook, or Google+.

Like this? Read more:

Managing your Mood with Migraines: 4 Simple Surefire Tips for Happiness

Migraines and Work Stress:Surprising Symptoms

Migraines in Children Linked to Emotional Problems


Abuse, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Migraine

Image(s) courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot/FreeDigitalPhotos.net