Stress And Migraine: Causes, Link And Management Tips


What is the link between stress and migraine? According to a scientific study, stress can trigger migraine attacks and it is present in nearly 70% of individuals. In this article, we will explore how stress can trigger migraine and the typical causes of stress leading to migraine attacks.

Causes Of Stress

According to AMF, the brain is the organ that detects stress, like a fire alarm for the building. It detects what is or may become stressful, and it attempts to manage the stress (allostatic response). In a study, it is found that high levels of stress are reported in migraine patients, particularly in those suffering from chronic migraine.

Some causes of stress are:

Migraines Caused By Stress And Anxiety

Anxiety and stress can trigger migraine symptoms. According to a research article, a large prospective study with more than 5000 participants found that stress intensity was associated with headaches for individuals with tension-type headache, migraine and, coexisting tension-type headache and migraine.

Sleep deprivation, menstrual cycles and mental health issues are some of the causes of stress which can alter the allostatic load in the migraine brain. When the frequency or severity of these stressors escalate, the allostatic responses of the migraine brain becomes overused and dysregulated. This can lead to wear and tear on the brain leading to an altered brain network functionally and structurally. This can trigger migraine attacks as the brain generates a mal-adaptive allostatic load.

Other Factors That Affect Stress Load

Certain internal physical factors can affect the body’s stress load. Such factors include:

  • Issues with blood sugar
  • Dysfunction in the autonomic nervous system (which controls our heart rate, blood pressure, etc.)
  • Increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines (chemicals sometimes produced by the body when there is infection or inflammation)

Some medications may also affect our body’s physical processes, which can affect our body balance. For example, research has shown that chronic migraineurs with medication overuse headache have dysfunction of their corticotrophic (a type of hormone) and somatotrophic (another type of hormone) systems compared to people without migraine.

How To Manage Stress And Migraine

Some ways to manage stress levels include:

  1. Identifying your stress and migraine triggers
  2. Relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation
  3. Food sleeping habits
  4. Eating a well-balanced diet
  5. Speaking to a therapist

Other ways to manage your migraine symptoms can be through medications. Medications and behavioral treatments are available to help with these symptoms. It is important to speak with your doctor if you are also experiencing these symptoms.

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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