The Link Between Migraines and Anxiety


Life gets in the way of living. The harder you try to just get through the day, the longer the day gets. Does this sound like your life? Are you completely overwhelmed? Do you have bad migraines? We have decided to take a look around the internet and see if we could find the research to link the two. Maybe the reason you have migraines is that you are stressed, overworked, and worried. Maybe your anxiety levels cause your migraines, or your migraines cause your anxiety. Either way, by the time you finish this article you will have a better understanding of the two.

The Definition of a Migraine

A migraine is a reoccurring headache that is moderate to severe. It happens more than four times a week. The headache can last one to four hours at a time. They occur on one side of the head. The headache is throbbing and does not travel. Your migraine can have other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and sensitivity to sound. Your regular pain medications may not be enough to relieve it.

The Definition of Anxiety

Anxiety is classified as the uneasy feeling of something being wrong. It can be onset and gone as fast as it shows or it can affect every part of your body. Anxiety can cause a rise in blood pressure, hyper ventilating, and possibly the inability to think clearly. You can have anxiety about an upcoming event or about nothing you can point your finger on. Anxiety can look different for everyone. It can be regular panic attacks or a general feeling of unease.

There are medications to treat your anxiety. Some of them have migraines listed a potential side effect. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you find your medication is one of those medications.

PTSD and Migraines

We found some very interesting research surrounding PTSD symptoms and Migraine symptoms. Almost all PTSD diagnosis had a migraine diagnosis as well. The first thought was that the migraines are triggering symptoms in the brain. However, seventy percent of PTSD symptoms preceded the migraine. Exactly the opposite of what we expected. Also, those with migraines reported twice as many triggers as those without migraines. So, the reasoning is that PTSD and migraines are related and do feed into each other. While you can have one without the other, you are more like to have one if you have the other. This can complicate treatment and relief for both conditions.

Serotonin Levels

Serotonin is vital for brain function and development. It relays signals and that helps you process thoughts and ideas. It is critical for life. The amount of serotonin, and estrogen, in your body depends on a number of factors. Hormones are affected by your stage of life, including puberty, menstrual cycle, and menopause. It is also effected by outside factors like stress and sickness.

Now, it isn’t these low levels that actually cause the pain. It is these low level that may make your face, scalp, and neck more sensitive to this pain. This sensitivity to pain is what makes the migraines so intense and hard to deal with. It’s also one reason why the scalp and neck are one of the best places to apply treatment techniques.

These serotonin level changes are what triggers most anxiety and panic attacks. The reason is because it is the first sign that there is something not quite right, even before the pain. These are the physical symptoms that are triggering your mind to become overwhelmed and confused at time. You may begin to breath heavily. You may begin to get dizzy because of the lack of oxygen. Then you calm down and the pain starts to sneak in.

A lot of migraines don’t come immediately. They are triggered. You notice a build up coming. Slight changes that are unique to you let you know it is inevitable. This is the point where you start to look for relief.

Finding Relief

Now that you know that there is a link between your anxiety and your migraines. You maybe taking the steps to relieve your anxiety. You probably have even changed your life to better reflect your choice to change your anxiety levels. So, how do you find relief? Let’s see the options.

Pain Medications – yes, you can go to the doctor and get a prescription for pain. Your doctor can go over the many options. Be aware that some of these may have side effects that you don’t love like sleepiness or the inability to drive.

Chemical balancing meds can help you to prevent the sudden drops. It can help to prevent pain by decreasing the sensitivity caused by the sudden drop in serotonin levels. These can be tricky and can sometimes cause depression or suicidal thoughts.

Essential oil blends can help to relieve the pain by relaxing your body. This can help the most with stress related migraines.

CBD is fairly new. However, the research behind it is promising. By blocking the receptors that register pain and simultaneously releasing chemicals that help you to feel good, it helps multiple ways at a time. It has been effective in treating migraines, depression, PTSD, anxiety, and even chronic pain. The downside is price. CBD isn’t likely to be covered by insurance. You need to apply it every few hours. If it builds up in your system, you have better results. The cost can become overwhelming rather quickly. Your situation is unique. You are an individual. Whether your migraines and anxiety gives you daily trouble or just occasional pain, you do have options. We encourage you to talk to your doctor about the links you have so that you can get the best treatment options possible. After all, you are not defined by your migraine.