There is a very strong correlation between migraines and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Studies show that PTSD occurs three to four times more often in migraine sufferers than it does in people who do not experience migraines. There is an altered brain/body stress response in people suffering PTSD and headache pain relief comes from treating both the migraine and the PTSD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be caused by many different types of tragic events, including physical and sexual abuse, automobile accidents, war, natural disasters, etc. PTSD occurs as a result of any type of event that elicits strong feelings of fear, horror, helplessness, etc. Symptoms include flashbacks of the event, heightened awareness and arousal (such as being “jumpy”), reoccurring nightmares of the event/s as well as other types of responses. Some people with PTSD feel detached from friends and family and others feel numb emotionally. Anger, guilt and other feelings can also be a part of PTSD.
PTSD has been best treated effectively with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which is often done in conjunction with anti-depressant drug therapy. The drugs help the individual feel better physically so that they are able to participate in the therapy easier. Additionally, migraine medications are given for relief of headache pain.
While PTSD is present in 10% of the general population, 25% of the patients in a headache clinic have PTSD. It has also been determined that 50% of veterans in hospitals and clinics that have returned from combat suffer headache pain. One study conducted on the correlation between migraines and PTSD showed that 60% of the participants claimed that physical or sexual abuse was the cause. However, the most interesting fact of all the studies may be that 3 times more men who suffer migraine pain have PTSD than women migraine sufferers.
Filed under: Types of Headaches
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