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Can Stress Cause A Migraine Headache

Why Does Anxiety Cause Migraines

Can overthinking lead to a headache? – Dr. Sanjay Panicker

At this time, the cause of migraine headaches is unknown. Theories include a change in brain chemistry, inflammation in the brain, and problems with how nerves communicate. Some believe there is a genetic connection which can make a person more sensitive to known migraine triggers.

Nevertheless, there are well-known migraine triggers. Some include:

Anxiety stresses the body. Stress is a common trigger for migraine headaches. Many migraine sufferers notice a correlation between their episodes of anxiety and migraine frequency.

Strong emotions, such as those associated anxiety, depression, excitement, despair, frustration, anger, shock, and fear are also well-known migraine triggers. Many anxiety disorder sufferers experience these types of strong emotions.

Sleep deprivation is also a known migraine trigger, as are certain sleep medications. Anxiety and hyperstimulation often cause problems with sleep. Many anxiety disorder sufferers experience regular sleep disruption. Many also resort to taking sleep medications in an attempt to restore good sleep.

Hormonal changes, stimulants , irregular mealtimes, and dehydration are also known migraine triggers. Many anxious people have their hormones affected by elevated stress hormones , eat at irregular hours , ingest stimulants, and dont drink enough fluids.

A change in the weather is also a common migraine trigger.

Research has also found a correlation between migraine headaches and anxiety.

How Long Do Retinal Migraine Headaches Last

The headache phase of a retinal migraine begins during or within 60 minutes of the visual symptoms.

People suspected of having retinal migraine should be carefully assessed by their doctor for an underlying cause. As well, they should be evaluated to make sure that they do not have a different primary headache disorder that can mimic retinal migraine. Other primary headache disorders that mimic retinal migraine include migraine with typical aura.

In retinal migraine the visual symptoms should only be present when looking through one eye. For example if you look through the right eye and close the left eye, you see twinkling lights but when you look through the left eye and close the right eye your vision is normal. In migraine with typical aura, when you alternate which eye you look through the visual disturbance will be seen with either eye but possibly more prominent with one eye or the other. This is because in retinal migraine the vision symptoms are coming from the eye , while in migraine with typical aura the vision symptoms are coming from the brain . The distinction between retinal migraine and migraine with typical aura is important for treatment considerations and counselling regarding future outcomes. Irreversible visual loss may be a complication of retinal migraine but not migraine with typical aura. It is unclear how often permanent vision loss occurs with retinal migraine and there are no identified predictors for this currently.

Stress And Migraine: Cause Or Trigger

Stress and Migraine are intimately connected, but their relationship isn’t always simple. “Stress is the number one reported trigger for patients with Migraine,” says Dr. Wells. Many people also experience “let-down headaches” that hit the day following a stressful event.

She highlights the importance of the trigger threshold – the number of Migraine triggers you can be exposed to before getting an attack. “Sometimes it’s not stress alone, but if someone has five triggers then after the fifth, a headache can come on,” she explains.

Migraine is a genetic condition, and people with a predisposition to them will get attacks, whether stress sets them off, or something else does. When it comes down to it, Dr. Wells says that “the real question mark in the scientific community is, What is the role of a trigger?'” We don’t have an answer, yet.

One thing is for certain, and that’s that triggers are tricky. “We don’t think stress causes a headache,” says Dr. Wells. “There is a genetic predisposition to headache, and sometimes stress can be a factoring role in whether an individual attack happens or doesn’t happen.”

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As If Stress Werent Bad Enough On Its Own It Can Both Trigger And Worsen Headaches

Modern life is stressful and, unfortunately, that doesnt seem likely to change any time soon. From the moment your alarm clock jolts you out of bed until youre finally done for the day, you are likely to experience some amount of stress. This can be in the form of anxiety or other psychological pressures, or physical stress such as eye and neck strain from sitting at a computer. While a little stress is tolerable, too much can have damaging effects on your health.i Many symptoms can be attributed to the mental and physiological pressures were under. These can range from fatigue to stomach upset to sleep problems. Top of the list? That nagging headache.ii

What Causes Stress Migraine

Headaches and Migraines: Causes and Risk Factors

The stress that causes migraine can be good stress or bad stress. Good stress may be not getting enough rest during a busy holiday season or forgetting to eat because you are out having fun with friends. Examples of bad stress can be feeling depressed or anxious about a situation at work, death of a loved one, or divorce. In these cases, stress triggers a migraine.

To make matters worse, migraine pain causes stress, which creates a hard-to-beat cycle. Some people even have what are called let down migraine. This happens when the body is used to constant stress and then relaxation triggers a migraine.1

It can be hard for a person with migraine to control the stress in their life, just as it is for people who do not have migraine. Different things cause stress in different people, and each person reacts in their own way to stress.

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Ocular Migraines And Stroke

Henry HoffmanThursday, September 27th, 2018

Today, migraines are considered the most common neurological disorder according to the Journal of Stroke, and, in the United States alone, about30 million people suffer from these debilitating headaches. Research has determined that all migraineurs are at a higher risk of suffering a stroke, and this risk factor is potentiallydoubled or tripled for individuals who suffer from migraines with visual disturbances collectively known as aura.

Unfortunately, migraines with aura exhibit similar symptoms to those associated with certain life-threatening conditions, namelytransient ischemic attacks and strokes. For this reason, many migraineurs may mistake early stroke warning signs for classic migraine symptoms. Telling the difference and recognizing a medical emergency for what it is can be difficult, but isnt impossible.

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How Long Does Retinal Migraine Last

The visual effects of a retinal migraine usually last no more than an hour.

Not all retinal migraine attacks come with a headache or nausea, but such symptoms may last longer potentially for more than a day.

Both children and adults of any age can experience retinal migraine. These tend to be more common in the following groups:

  • people under 40 years old
  • women
  • people with a family history of retinal migraine or headaches
  • people with a personal history of migraine or headaches

People with certain illnesses that impact the blood vessels and eyes may also be at risk. These illnesses include:

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Coeliac Disease And Gluten Sensitivity

Coeliac disease is a serious condition where a persons immune system reacts when they eat gluten and causes damage to the lining of their gut. When this happens, they have symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, vomiting and stomach cramps. There can also be serious complications if it is not treated, such as anaemia. There is no cure for coeliac disease and people with it need to avoid gluten all their life.

There have been studies into the link between coeliac disease and migraine. There is no evidence to suggest that coeliac disease causes migraine. It is thought that if people with coeliac disease and migraine follow a gluten-free diet, this may help with both of their conditions.

Gluten sensitivity is when a person has a bad reaction if they eat gluten. They may have similar symptoms to coeliac disease, but there is no damage to the lining of their gut or the risk of serious complications that can happen with coeliac disease.

Gluten is found in foods that contain wheat, barley or rye. These include pasta, bread, cakes, some sauces and most ready meals.

One of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity is headache. But there is no evidence that gluten sensitivity causes migraine. However, if you are sensitive to gluten, you may find that if you eat food containing gluten, it makes migraine attacks more likely or the symptoms more painful.

The Effects Of Stress On Migraine Patients

Headaches, Migraines, and Headband Sensations (How chronic stress and Anxiety can cause these)

What can people with migraine expect if they also have high stress? Research gives us insight into these important side effects. For instance, when a person is exposed to repeated stressors, actual physical changes can occur within the body. Chronic stress has the ability to change how a person responds to tense or difficult situations as well as change brain structure and networks.3 These changes represent one of the theories as to why stress can actually lead to migraine attacks as well as particularly affect those with chronic migraine.

In fact, those with chronic migraine have been shown to experience higher levels of perceived stress overall and also had lower quality of life.4 They are also more likely to have poor outcomes to acute treatment.6

Specific symptoms may also worsen with increasing stress,6 such as:

  • Bilateral migraine pain
  • Phonophobia

Photophobia is particularly interesting because it is an independent factor in increasing stress and anxiety overall, especially for those with migraine. And you may be more likely to develop painful sensitivity to light if you have higher stress. You can read more about the connection between light sensitivity, stress and anxiety here.

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Ocular Migraine And Visual Migraine Symptoms

Ocular migraine symptoms generally include a small blind spot that affects your central vision in one eye. This blind spot gets larger, making it impossible for you to drive safely or read with the affected eye.

In some cases, the entire visual field of one eye may be affected. Generally, the episode lasts less than an hour.

Visual migraine symptoms can vary, and may include:

Visual migraines often appear suddenly and may create the sensation of looking through a cracked window. The visual migraine aura usually moves across your field of view and disappears within 30 minutes.

  • A flickering blind spot in the center or near the center of your field of view

  • A wavy or zigzag ring of colored light surrounding a central blind spot

  • A blind spot that slowly migrates across your visual field

  • The symptoms of a visual migraine typically affect both eyes and last less than 30 minutes. A migraine headache may occur shortly after the symptoms of a visual migraine subside or no headache may occur.

    If youre experiencing a blind spot or other visual disturbance and youre not sure if its an ocular migraine or a visual migraine , cover one eye at a time. If the visual disturbance affects just one eye, its probably an ocular migraine. If it affects both eyes, its likely a visual migraine.

    What Medicines Help Relieve Migraine Pain

    For mild to moderate migraines, over-the-counter medicines that may help relieve migraine pain include:

    • aspirin
    • acetaminophen
    • an acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine combination
    • ibuprofen
    • naproxen
    • ketoprofen

    People who have more severe migraines may need to try abortive prescription medicines. A medicine called ergotamine can be effective alone or combined with other medicines. Dihydroergotamine is related to ergotamine and can be helpful. Other prescription medicines for migraines include sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, eletriptan, and frovatriptan.

    If the pain wont go away, stronger pain medicine may be needed, such as a narcotic, or medicines that contain a barbiturate . These medicines can be habit-forming and should be used cautiously. Your doctor may prescribe these only if they are needed and only for a short period of time.

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    Can Migraine Be Worse During Menopause

    If your migraine headaches are closely linked to your menstrual cycle, menopause may make them less severe. As you get older, the nausea and vomiting may decrease as well. About two-thirds of women with migraines report that their symptoms improve with menopause.

    But for some women, menopause worsens migraine or triggers them to start. It is not clear why this happens. Menopausal hormone therapy, which is prescribed for some women during menopause, may be linked to migraines during this time. In general, though, the worsening of migraine symptoms goes away once menopause is complete.

    What Is The Link Between Migraine And Stress:

    Try These 9 Simple Headache Hacks for Fast Relief

    The researchers are still trying to pinpoint the exact causes of migraines but many individuals link migraine headaches with stress. For example, a study in 2007 showed that out of 1750 people diagnosed with migraines, approximately 80% stated that the key trigger for their condition was stress.

    Surprisingly, the majority of individuals tend to experience migraines after going through a stressful event, regardless of its emotional or physical nature, rather than during those events.

    For example, a 2014 study confirmed that the key trigger for migraines is usually linked to a decline in perceived stress levels rather than during their peak. This is called the let-down effect, where experiencing acute perceived stress causes the body to produce fight or flight hormones that increase the body resistance to pain and stress as well as the immune system.

    As those effects start to wear off, the migraine symptoms could start occurring. As a result, after experiencing a stressful event, a body is recovering from its response, at which stage the researchers are claiming that the migraines start to occur.

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    Chronic Migraine Stress And Your Brain

    Frequent or severe stress can change your brainĂ¢s functions and structures. These changes will only get worse as the stress continues.

    If you have chronic migraines, your brain acts differently than the brains of healthy, migraine-free people. Even between headaches, your brain can be in an overexcited state. Changes in brain structure may result from frequent migraines.

    Stay The Heck Away: Prevention

    Stress has its uses. It can give you the focus you need to get through a short-term crisis, just as it gave our ancestors the mental focus to escape saber-toothed tigers and other threats.

    But chronic stress can take a toll on your physical and mental health, including triggering stress migraine.

    The key to preventing stress migraine is to reduce the amount of stress and anxiety in your life. Seems simple, right? Well, you cant avoid some stress. But you can still manage how you react to it.

    There are proven techniques that can calm your mind and reduce the risk of triggering a stress migraine. And, indeed, the general unpleasantness of stress itself.

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    Migraine Aura With Visual Disturbances

    Migraine is a neurological condition that often causes severe headaches. Migraines tend to run in families.

    A migraine aura is experienced by approximately 25 percent of people with a migraine, either before or at the same time as a migraine episode.

    Typically, people with migraines with aura do not experience all of their migraine episodes, only some of them.

    An aura is a temporary visual, auditory, motor, or other sensory change. Visual disturbances can be:

    Of the people who experience an aura, about 99 percent have at least one visual symptom with some of their auras.

    Some people with a history of migraines report worsening migraine episodes during COVID-19. Some people without a history of migraines report having migraine-like headaches.

    A 2020 study found that of 47 people with COVID-19 who reported having a headache, 24 people reported having migraine-like headaches, while 40 percent had symptoms of a tension headache.

    Before the development of COVID-19, only 12 of the study participants had previously experienced migraine episodes.

    According to a June 2020 research report, the most commonly reported neurological symptoms of COVID-19 are headache and loss of smell.

    Serious neurological complications such as stroke or seizures have also been reported, although these are not common with COVID-19.

    The most common eye symptoms were:

    • dry eyes or a foreign body sensation
    • Redness

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    Who Is At Risk For Migraines

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    About 12% of Americans get migraines. They can affect anyone, but you are more likely to have them if you:

    • Are a woman. Women are three times more likely than men to get migraines.
    • Have a family history of migraines. Most people with migraines have family members who have migraines.
    • Have other medical conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, and epilepsy.

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    How To Reduce Stress And Manage Migraine:

    Even though the connection between migraines and stress is still being research, it is common that individuals experience stress-related migraines in cycles. In order to reduce the chances of this condition occurring, there are some lifestyle adjustments that could be made to help reduce or even eliminate the risk of migraines like:

    Change Your Consumption sometimes individuals tend to start more unhealthy consumption like coffee, alcohol and tobacco to deal with stress. While it is a temporary relief, in the long run, it fails to completely eliminate the stress while also causing additional issues like lower sleep quality and affect your productivity, further increasing the stress pressure in the long run.

    Do Exercise even though exercise is recommended for anyone to improve their overall wellbeing, it is even more beneficial to people experiencing stress. From exercising, our body starts producing endorphins which stimulate the brain and overall improve the mood in the long run, as well as additional benefits like better sleep quality, productivity and overall wellbeing

    Improve Your Sleep Maintaining a consistent sleeping schedule and getting plenty of hours of sleep is linked to overall improvements in stress resistance and productivity. Avoiding screentime before bed also assists with improving the quality of your sleep.


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