mental health Mia Barnes

How Chronic Migraines Can Take a Toll on Your Mental Health

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If you live with chronic migraines, you know how much they can disrupt your life. It’s not surprising that migraine sufferers may also experience mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder more often than others. 

Comorbidity refers to the relationships between two diseases in the same person at a higher degree together. Understanding the potential effects of migraines on mental health can help manage each problem since one involves the other. 

Here is how chronic migraines can take a toll on your mental health and what you can do to manage your symptoms. 

What Causes Migraines

There are many types of headaches, and each has a distinct sensation. Some of the most common are tension, cluster, sinus, exertion and migraines. Migraine triggers can include things like:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress
  • Food or drinks
  • Weather changes
  • Lack of sleep

The causes of migraines can be intertwined with mental health. Lots of stress on the body can lead to anxiety and depression. Over time, the negative emotions could take their toll and vice versa.   

Linking Migraines and Mental Health 

A survey reported that over 6,000 adults with migraines are over twice as likely to report mental health issues than those who do not. Anxiety and depression may be more common for people who experience migraines. Chronic migraines are typically defined as a throbbing pain on one side of the head that occurs 15 or more days each month for at least three months. 

Migraines can also affect you if you have bipolar or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those with PTSD can develop something similar to a migraine called post-traumatic headache (PPTH), which is similar to a migraine. People with PPTH may have a higher risk of mental health disorders than migraines. 

Does One Cause the Other?

The relationship between mental health and migraines is unclear. It can be challenging to determine if one leads to the other. Studies suggest that depression is a strong predictor for migraines, but migraine treatment does not improve depressive symptoms. Both issues may contribute to each other since they affect similar chemicals in your brain. 

There are other practical reasons why chronic migraines can affect your emotional health, such as wondering when a panic attack will come on or constantly worrying about depression. Chronic pain can stress the mind and body, disrupting the hormones and chemicals in your brain and making migraines worse. 

Each condition must be treated since they overlap. You wouldn’t want to focus on one and ignore the other. If you experience anxiety or depression with migraines, getting to the route of your mental illness can improve both issues.  

Tips for Migraine Relief

These chronic headaches can interrupt your life in many ways, including work, home and friends. You may even start to feel isolated due to them, which can harm your mental health and self-esteem. Paying attention to your mental state and knowing when to seek professional help is important. 

These are some tips for migraine relief. Managing your symptoms can also improve your mental health. 

Determine Triggers

If you want to get rid of migraines, knowing what causes them is a good place to start. They may come from certain foods, drinks, stress or even a bad night’s sleep. A consistent sleep routine can be critical to your emotional health and helps avoid migraines. Sleep disorders are related to more frequent and severe headaches, so it is important to prioritize this. 

Manage Stress Levels

Keeping stress levels down is one of the best ways to alleviate headaches and their frequency. You can do this by practicing mindfulness exercises like meditation or mind-body connection practices like yoga. Some people also like to keep a journal detailing their symptoms and feelings. These activities can also benefit your mental health. 

Take Care of Mental Health

Stay connected with friends and family even when migraines get in the way of feeling social. The support of others is key to improved mental health. Research shows that connectedness is associated with lower risks of anxiety and depression and that loneliness should be perceived as a risk factor for these mental illnesses. As hard as it may feel, it’s vital to make plans with others, even if it’s just hanging out at one of your houses.

Live a Healthy Lifestyle 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce headaches and migraines. A nutritious diet and proper hydration can help reduce the risks of migraines. Exercise can also improve headaches and mental health. It does not have to be vigorous. Even a 30-minute walk can boost your mood and improve your physical condition. 

The Migraine and Mental Health Connection

Migraines can cause depression and anxiety and vice versa. They are likely driven by environmental, genetic and hormonal factors. Focusing on your well-being may be the key to tackling these conditions and learning how to manage them.

Mia Barnes
Author: Mia Barnes