Can Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Cause Headaches?


Can Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Cause Headaches?

If you have PTSD and suffer from headaches, you may question if PTSD headaches are common. On the surface, it may appear that PTSD and migraine have little in common.

Migraine is a neurological illness defined by strong headaches, while PTSD is an anxiety disorder precipitated by an external traumatic incident.

However, a growing amount of evidence suggests that the two disorders frequently coexist and may have a biological link.

What is PTSD?

A traumatic experience can cause PTSD, which is a mental health disease.

Possible symptoms may include:

·       Anxiety

·       Flashbacks

·       Hyper-vigilance

·       Avoidance of event reminders

Trauma, such as physical and sexual abuse, is the most common cause of PTSD. PTSD affects from 26% to 52% of women who have endured childhood trauma or interpersonal violence, according to Trusted Source.

People who have been in life-threatening situations, such as military conflict, are more likely to develop PTSD than others.

It can have an impact on your relationships, work ability, and day-to-day life. Friends and relatives may perceive someone with PTSD as aloof or unavailable, and they may be more susceptible to substance abuse (SUD).

Is there a link between post-traumatic stress disorder and headaches?

According to a 2014 study, PTSD is frequently associated with tension headaches and migraines.

According to a review of studies published in 2011, approximately 22% to 30% of patients with headaches satisfy the criteria for PTSD. In a survey of veterans, nearly half of those suffering from migraine satisfied the criteria for PTSD.

According to a 2011 population survey with over 5,600 participants, those with episodic migraine had a higher risk of acquiring PTSD than those who do not have a headache disease. People with PTSD may also be at a higher risk of having migraines.

The actual mechanism between PTSD and migraine is uncertain, though.

While the findings do not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, they do imply that patients with migraine are more likely to acquire PTSD when they are exposed to distressing situations.

According to the same review cited above, the PTSD-migraine relationship could involve dysfunction of:

·       the sympathetic nervous system, which activates the fight-or-flight reaction in your body

·       the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which controls the body's stress response

·       Levels of serotonin and adrenaline

Suggestions for coping with headaches and migraines

Migraine has no cure, although it can be managed with preventative and acute treatments.

Preventive drugs, such as beta-blockers, can help prevent migraine attacks from occurring in the first place. After a migraine has started, over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications can help relieve the pain.

For mild to moderate migraines, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are the first-line treatments, whereas doctors often prescribe triptans for moderate to severe migraine episodes. In addition, new therapy research is ongoing.

Changes in one's lifestyle may also make it easier to deal with migraines. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, not missing meals, and avoidance of migraine triggers such as alcohol or specific foods may all assist to reduce the likelihood of a migraine attack.

The following non-pharmaceutical migraine treatments may be beneficial:

·       Keep yourself hydrated. Migraine attacks are frequently triggered by dehydration. Migraine frequency, pain, and duration were shown to be considerably lower in persons who drank more water in a 2020 study comprising 256 participants.

·       Acupressure. Applying pressure to specific places of the body can help relieve migraine discomfort and tension, according to some people.

·       Exercise. A 2011 research of migraine sufferers found that frequent physical activity can help avoid migraines, especially for those who don't respond to or don't want to use daily medication.

Keeping a migraine journal, such as the Migraine Buddy app, might help you discover probable migraine triggers.

Let’s recap

Anxiety, flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, and avoidance are all symptoms of PTSD, which is a mental health disease brought on by a traumatic incident. Migraine is a long-term neurological condition characterised by persistent, excruciating headaches and associated symptoms.

PTSD and migraines frequently coexist. There may be a biological cause behind this, according to research. People who suffer from one disorder are more prone to develop the other.

Both disorders can be managed with a variety of therapeutic choices, including medication and lifestyle changes. If you suspect you have PTSD and migraines, it's a good idea to speak with a doctor to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

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