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Anxiety & Migraines

There is a strong connection between anxiety and migraines – according to some experts, about 20 percent of people with episodic migraines also have anxiety, and nearly 50 percent of anxiety patients will also experience migraines. 

What is a Migraine?

A migraine is a chronic neurological condition that causes intense throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. These headaches are often accompanied by vomiting, increased sensitivity to sound and light, and nausea. Migraines can last anywhere between a few hours to a few days, often leading to severe impairment.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress – it is an unpleasant emotional state that occurs in the face of situations perceived as dangerous or uncomfortable. Anxiety often causes persistent, irrational fear, worry, and uneasiness.

Symptoms include muscle tension, dizziness, nausea, and a looming feeling that something bad is about to happen. Roughly 40 million American adults have anxiety at any given time.

Anxiety as a Trigger for Migraines

For many people, migraines are a frustrating and debilitating reality. These severe headaches can cause a great deal of pain and make it difficult to go about your day-to-day life. While there are many possible causes of migraines, one that is often overlooked is anxiety. 

Anxiety and stress can trigger migraines in several ways. First, they can cause the release of the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone impedes the production of serotonin in the brain, leading to the onset of migraines.

Additionally, anxiety can affect sleep patterns, which can lead to disruptions in the body’s internal clock. This disruption of normal sleep patterns is another well-established migraine trigger.

Migraines as a Trigger for Anxiety

For many people, migraines are more than just a painful experience – they can be a trigger for anxiety as well. This is because the persistent pain associated with chronic migraines can lead to extreme stress and severe impairment, which can in turn trigger anxiety or even depression.

For people with chronic migraines, the uncertainty of when the next attack might occur and how severe it will be can also increase feelings of worry and frustration, which may culminate in anxiety.

Coping With Anxiety and Migraines

If you suffer from both migraines and anxiety, there are several steps you can take to manage your symptoms. The first step is to talk to your doctor or therapist and develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses both conditions simultaneously. Common treatments include the use of medication or therapy.

You may also want to try stress-relief techniques like meditation and deep breathing exercises. Additionally, getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet can help keep your mind and body in balance. And finally, don’t forget to make adequate rest a priority – try going to bed at the same time every night and be sure to establish a relaxing bedtime routine.

The Takeaway

Anxiety and migraines tend to go hand-in-hand, and understanding the connection between these conditions can help you better manage and cope with your symptoms. If you think your anxiety might be causing your migraines – or vice versa, talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for you. Healthy lifestyle choices and stress-relief techniques can also help manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life.

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