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How to Stop Anxiety and Migraines

Denise Griswold, MSc, LCAS
How to Stop Anxiety and Migraines

Migraines are intense headaches often accompanied by other physical symptoms such as nausea or blurred vision. In many cases it is unable to be determined why one person may experience migraines and another does not. However, it has been shown that there is a correlation between migraines and anxiety. This article explores migraines and anxiety and discusses potential ways to fight anxiety to help relieve your headaches.

Anxiety that Causes Migraines

Treating your migraines as a separate condition may be important. Not everyone experiences migraines, and most medical experts argue that while anxiety may lead to migraines, those that get migraines are likely genetically predisposed to them. For those reasons, you should talk to your doctor about a potential migraine treatment.

But anxiety is also a serious trigger of migraines and something that affects your quality of life, which is why you also need to take your anxiety seriously. 

Since migraines don't always have an apparent cause, it's also not clear why many migraine sufferers also have anxiety. However, there are a few likely causes including: 

These are just some of the ways that anxiety can cause a migraine headache, and they're likely not the only ways. From hormone changes to immune system strength, the body goes through a lot of different problems when you suffer from anxiety, and many of them have the potential to trigger a headache.

Migraine Causing Anxiety

It should be noted that the reverse may also be true. It's possible - likely even probable - that those that have regular migraines end up increasing the likelihood of suffering from anxiety. While migraines are unlikely to be the only cause of a person developing anxiety, there are features of migraines that could potentially exacerbate the development of an anxiety disorder:

Some people may even experience a fear of migraines, which ironically may lead to anxiety that ends up causing a migraine. There are many ways that migraines can lead to the development of anxiety. It's never the sole cause, but it may be a contributing cause.

Cyclical Nature of the Two Conditions

Another important problem to consider is that the two conditions may cause each other. Anxiety can lead to migraines which eventually lead to anxiety, thus leading to more migraines and so on. That's one of the main reasons that it's often best to treat them as separate conditions even though they may be related. You'll need to break the cycle if you want to make sure that both are cured, and that can be hard if you target just anxiety or just your migraines.

How to Stop Anxiety Migraines

Migraines, once triggered, can be difficult to stop, and may last for hours. Over the counter pain relieving medications can provide some relief. Even though they are likely caused by anxiety, migraines are still migraines and should respond to the same treatments you would give a migraine not caused by anxiety.

That's one of the reasons that talking to your doctor is so important, as they may have their own advice or solution for your migraine. You'll also need to make sure that you do the following:

In the end, the only way to truly cure your anxiety migraines is to address your anxiety directly.

Article Resources
  1. Pesa, Jacqueline, and Maureen J. Lage.The medical costs of migraine and comorbid anxiety and depression. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 44.6 (2004): 562-570.
  2. Wacogne, C., et al. Stress, anxiety, depression and migraine.Cephalalgia 23.6 (2003): 451-455.
  3. Devlen, J. Anxiety and depression in migraine. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 87.6 (1994): 338.
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