Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Identifies Unhelpful Thought Patterns
Cognitive behavioral therapy works by identifying behaviors that a person is engaging in or avoiding, as well as thoughts theyre having that are unhelpful, inaccurate, or maladaptive, says Neda Gould, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.
We examine the thoughts that could be maintaining or exacerbating the condition and then work to change both the thoughts and the behaviors in a systematic way to improve it, says Dr. Gould.
For example, if a person gets into a spiral of negative thoughts, it can produce anxiety and stress, which can in turn trigger a migraine, according to the American Migraine Foundation. In CBT, the goal would be to identify those thought patterns and focus on ways to shift them into something less destructive and more positive.
A study published in 2019 in Headache looked at mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which pulls in features of cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness. Migraine was evaluated by the MIDAS questionnaire which measures the degree to which migraine impacts life, and includes questions about how much work or school a person misses and if and how migraine affects their productivity.
Investigators found that eight weeks of a mindfulness-based CBT intervention decreased migraine disability compared with a usual treatment group, suggesting that the therapy may help by reducing the impact of headache on peoples lives.
Being Active Can Relieve Stress Improve Sleep And Even Reduce Migraine Attacks
Exercise can be as beneficial for your mental health as it is for your physical health. Thats a particularly good thing for those living with migraine. Although it may be hard to exercise during a migraine attack, its important to try when you arent having one. Theres evidence to suggest regular exercise can help reduce the frequency of headache attacks. Not only does exercise reduce stress, a common migraine trigger, but it also helps with sleep and improves your mood.
Can Migraines Be Prevented Or Avoided
Medicine to prevent migraines may be helpful if your headaches happen more than 2 times a month. You may want to consider this medicine if your headaches make it hard for you to work and function. These medicines are taken every day, whether you have a headache or not.
Preventive medications for migraines can include prescription drugs often used to treat other ailments. Anti-seizure medicines, antidepressants, medicines to lower blood pressure, and even Botox injections are some of the preventive medications your doctor may prescribe. Calcitonin gene-related peptide inhibitors can also help prevent migraines. They do so by blocking a gene-related peptide in your sensory nerves. This peptide is known to increase during a migraine attack, so blocking it can help prevent migraines.
There are also a number of non-medical treatments designed to help minimize migraine pain and frequency. One is an electrical stimulation device, which has been approved by the FDA. It is a headband that you wear once a day for 20 minutes to stimulate the nerve linked to migraines. Another non-medical treatment is counseling aimed at helping you feel in more control of your migraines. This counseling works best when paired with medical prevention of migraines, as well.
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The Role Of The Endocannabinoid System In Migraine
According to Dr. Jim Polston, who holds a PhD in neuroscience and is the Chief Science Officer at Helius Therapeutics, cannabis works on migraines via the endocannabinoid system.
There is mounting evidence that the endocannabinoid system can directly reduce migraine pain when activated by naturally produced cannabinoids or medical cannabis taken by patients, said Polston. Cannabis can help to reduce inflammation in the protective dura mater tissue covering the brain and minimize the release of pro-inflammatory substances, both of which contribute to the onset of a migraine.
Polston also points out that one cause of chronic migraines is anandamide deficiency. Anandamide is one of two cannabinoids naturally produced in the brain and is associated with reduced inflammation and activation of pain centers in the brain, he explained.
The Science Behind Acupressure And How To Use It To Address Headaches And Migraines
Acupressure is one of the Asian bodywork therapies used in traditional Chinese medicine. It revolves around the medical theory of pressure points that lie along the meridians in the body. The meridians serve as energy channels, and it is believed that the vital qi energy flows through them.
Traditional Chinese medicine recognizes 12 major meridians that serve to connect specific organs or networks of organs. If any of these meridians becomes blocked or out of balance, you may experience different illnesses.
Even though it is seen as an alternative health method, the effectiveness of acupressure has been proven time after time by many scientists. One study examined pain in particular, showing that acupressure has the potential to relieve many different types of pain, such as menstrual pain, labor pain, low back pain, chronic headache, and other traumatic pain.
Acupressure works by applying deep pressure to the acupoints, usually for an extended period of time. By doing so, you activate and stimulate those points and work on relieving the pain or tension.
It is generally accepted that the body contains various pressure points which, if properly and safely triggered, can support health and well-being. For instance, there are pressure points for pain generally, as well as specific pressure points for headache and specific migraine pressure points.
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What Commonly Triggers A Migraine
People who get migraines may be able to identify triggers that seem to kick off the symptoms. Some possible triggers include the following:
- Stress and other emotions
- Biological and environmental conditions, such as hormonal shifts or exposure to light or smells
- Fatigue and changes in one’s sleep pattern
- Glaring or flickering lights
Foods That According To A Nutritionist Can Help Relieve Migraine Symptoms
As anyone who has had a migraine attack knows, it is not a common headache. Migraines can be debilitating and prevent you from working and participating in your everyday activities for hours or even days. They are one of the most common causes of chronic pain, affecting 39 million men, women, and children in the US and 1 billion people worldwide.
As someone who has suffered from this disease for most of my adult life, I know too well how painful and disruptive it can be. Fortunately, there have been tremendous advances in the prevention and treatment of this neurological disorder in recent years. Still, medications can cause undesirable side effects, including hair loss, constipation, and nausea, in some migraineurs.
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Thats why I was excited to see the results of a recent National Institutes of Health sponsored clinical study that looked at how specific dietary changes could help migraineurs. The study found that participants who consumed foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, the oils found in some fish, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, increased their diet while eating foods high in omega-6 fatty acids, like many Vegetables, restricted oils, could reduce the frequency and intensity of their migraines.
Here are five foods that you should be eating to increase your omega-3 fat intake.
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What Are The Causes Of Migraines
Migraines could be caused due to several triggers individually or a combination of more than one trigger. Some common triggers of migraine are:
- Stress: Physical or emotional stress can trigger chemicals in the brain, which can cause blood vessels to dilate, leading to a migraine.
- Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. The premenstrual period and during menstruation are prone to trigger a migraine.
- Allergies, and nasal and sinus infections
- Smoking, alcohol, and recreational drugs
- Genetic predisposition: If one parent has a history of migraines, the offspring has a 50% chance of getting them and if both parents have a history, the risk increases to 75%.
When To See A Chiropractor
While there are safe and effective drug treatments for migraines, consulting a chiropractor is a great alternative if you dont want to be reliant on pain medications. If you have frequent attacks and they keep getting worse even with drug treatments, it may be best to consult a chiropractor.
Chiropractors take a holistic approach on how to treat a migraine to increase its effectiveness. Before you visit a chiropractor, it would be useful to have a detailed record that shows how often you experience migraines and how painful they are. Its also best to find out if anyone in your family has developed migraines.
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Who Gets Migraines What Are The Risk Factors
Its difficult to predict who may get a migraine and who may not, but there are risk factors that may make you more vulnerable. These risk factors include:
- Genetics: Up to 80% of people who get migraine headaches have a first-degree relative with the disease.
- Gender. Migraine headaches happen to women more than men, especially women between the ages of 15 and 55. Its likely more common in women because of the influence of hormones.
- Stress level. You may get migraines more often if youre high-stress. Stress can trigger a migraine.
Eliminating The Food And Drink Culprits
Since each person is different as to which foods and drinks cause and relieve headaches, it takes giving the special diet attention to determine what triggers headaches and what helps headache pain. It may be possible to link certain foods to your headaches, so you can eliminate them from the diet, or to link them to headache relief and add them to the diet.
Developing a healthy lifestyle is also crucial to headache management. You should not rely only on medications for relief. Many headaches are caused by stress and tension, so address the stress factors in your life. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Limit alcohol intake. Do not skip meals. Drink lots of water every day. Get regular good sleep. Exercise regularly. These are behaviors that anyone can control and will go a long way towards preventing headaches and/or minimizing headache pain.
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What Are Alternative Migraine Treatments
Alternative therapies for migraine refer to treatments that are outside the scope of conventional medicine. The options are wide-ranging, from acupuncture, stress management, and diet changes to electromyographic biofeedback and even botox. Chiropractic care is another popular alternative to pharmacological treatment. Most of these therapies are based on the premise that prevention is better than cure.
Limit The Use Of All Pain Medicines
- Do not use prescription pain medicine for headaches for more than nine days in a month.
- Do not use non-prescription pain medicine for more than 14 days in a month.
This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.
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Neuroplasticity Allows Your Brain To Change
Some experts believe that some of the benefits of behavioral therapies for chronic diseases such as migraine are possible because of neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the idea that the brain can change in response to what is practiced and what is experienced, says Rebecca Wells, MD, MPH, an associate professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the director of the comprehensive headache program and an associate director of clinical research at the university’s center for integrative medicine.
The brain can form and reorganize its pathways in response to the things that we do every day that help us grow and learn, says Dr. Wells.
Just as a muscle grows stronger from use, a person can use modalities such as mindfulness to change the function and structure of his or her brain, says Wells.
Bananas Give You Energy When You Need It
Looking for something quick and easy that could help stave off a migraine attack or an episode of hypoglycemia, which could lead to a headache? Reach for a banana rather than highly processed foods like granola bars or candy, suggests Brown.
Bananas are a great food for quick energy recovery, and theyre high in magnesium, which can be helpful when people have headaches, she says.
Bananas are about 74 percent water, so there are hydration benefits as well, Brown says.
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Biofeedback Can Help You Change Your Reactions To Stress
Another way to manage the stress that can contribute to migraine is through biofeedback. Biofeedback tools measure things like brain waves, breathing, heart rate, muscle contraction, sweat gland activity, and body temperature, according to the Mayo Clinic.
By recognizing how the body responds to stress and strain, a person can make adjustments in order to minimize some of the negative consequences, thereby helping prevent or reduce a headache, according to the American Migraine Foundation.
There is a large body of research that suggests biofeedback can help stabilize the nervous system between attacks and lower the number of migraine attacks, according to the National Headache Foundation.
If youd like to try biofeedback to help with migraine, speak to your headache doctor about where to find biofeedback providers in your area.
Whats A Migraine Journal
- Keeping a migraine journal is not only beneficial to you, but it helps your healthcare provider with the diagnosis process. Your journal should be detailed and updated as much as possible before, during and after a migraine attack. Consider keeping track of the following:
- The date and time of when the migraine began specifically when the prodrome started, if youre able to tell its happening. Track time passing. When did the aura phase begin? The headache? The postdrome? Do your best to tell what stage youre in and how long it lasts. If theres a pattern, that may help you anticipate what will happen in the future.
- What are your symptoms? Be specific.
- Note how many hours of sleep you got the night before it happened and your stress level. Whats causing your stress?
- Note the weather.
- Log your food and water intake. Did you eat something that triggered the migraine? Did you miss a meal?
- Describe the type of pain and rate it on a one to 10 scale with 10 being the worst pain youve ever experienced.
- Where is the pain located? One side of your head? Your jaw? Your eye?
- List all of the medications you took. This includes any daily prescriptions, any supplements and any pain medication you took.
- How did you try to treat your migraine, and did it work? What medicine did you take, at what dosage, at what time?
- Consider other triggers. Maybe you played basketball in the sunlight? Maybe you watched a movie that had flashing lights? If youre a woman, are you on your period?
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Pain Management Treatments For Treatment
With primary and secondary headaches, it can feel as if the brain hurts. Many people are surprised when they learn that the brain cannot feel pain. The pain of a headache is actually from inflammation of the nerves, muscles, and blood vessels in the head and neck.
Not everyone responds well to the types of treatments we have discussed above. For some people with headaches that do not get adequate relief from these standard headache treatments, there are some additional options to try after exploring less invasive therapies. A doctor can discuss your treatment possibilities and evaluate many different factors to determine the best therapy for you.
Here are some pain management treatments for headaches that do not respond well to other therapies:
How Cannabis Can Help With Migraines
For those who regularly experience migraines, life carries unique challenges. Seemingly harmless sensory stimuli, like bright lights, strong aromas, or loud noises, can trigger unbearable pain. Stress, neck tension, and even jet lag can set a crippling migraine in motion too. This intense pain can be accompanied by a loss of sensation, nausea, or alarming visual changes. The disruption associated with chronic migraines can be so constant it can even erode ones sense of self.
Although drugs commonly prescribed for the prevention and treatment of migraines help some individuals, they dont offer relief for all migraineurs. Similar to many heavy-hitting medications, a host of unwanted side effects may ensue with use. However, evidence is accumulating that cannabis may be an effective treatment for migraines and chronic headaches.
A November 2019 study published in the Journal of Pain reported that cannabis could reduce migraine and headache severity by 50%, and although tolerance can increase, cannabis use does not exacerbate headaches or migraines over time. Concentrates appeared to offer more significant relief than flower.
So now we know cannabis can ease migraine symptoms, what are the most effective ways to harness its benefits?
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Can Migraines Be Prevented
You can’t prevent every migraine. But learning your triggers and trying to avoid them can help. Take a break from activities that might start a migraine, such as using the computer for a long time. If you know that some foods are triggers, skip them. Some people find that cutting back on caffeine or drinking a lot of water can help prevent migraines.
Make a plan for all the things you have to do especially during stressful times like exams so you don’t feel overwhelmed when things pile up. Regular exercise also can reduce stress and make you feel better.
The more you understand about your headaches, the better prepared you can be to fight them.