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migraines Archives - Suzanne Wallach

The Connection Between Anxiety and Migraines


Anxiety has been explained as “an unpleasant emotional state or condition characterized by feelings of tension, apprehension, and worry.” While fleeting anxiety is unavoidable, it is atypical for an individual to experience frequent, intense, debilitating, persistent worries and/ or fears related to everyday situations, and such anxiety could be indicative of an anxiety disorder. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) asserts: “anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” The results of a 2021 systematic review revealed that there is a strong and consistent relationship between migraine and anxiety.

Migraine is defined as a “chronic, disabling neurological disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of headache.” Migraine and anxiety share a bidirectional relationship, meaning anxiety increases the risk of migraine and vice versa. Statistics show that approximately 20% of people living with episodic migraine (less than 14 migraine attacks per month) and 30 to 50% of people living with chronic migraine (15 migraine attacks or more per month) also experience anxiety. Psych Central and other sources highlight some of the ways in which these two conditions interconnect:

  • Both migraines and anxiety disorders involve central sensitization, where the nervous system becomes hypersensitive to stimuli. This can lead to increased pain perception and heightened emotional responses.
  • In 2017, a systematic review found that excessive worry and tension likely play a role in migraine episodes, as anxiety and stress are recognized as factors that can contribute to migraine episodes.
  • Stress hormones, such as cortisol, is known to cause several vascular changes in the brain, which could lead to inflammation and head pain. Additionally, emotional states related to stress and anxiety may also induce muscular tension, which could, in turn, exacerbate a migraine episode.
  • Individuals who experience frequent migraines may develop anticipatory anxiety, fearing the onset of the next migraine attack. This anxiety can lead to a constant state of tension and stress.
  • Both anxiety disorders and migraines involve abnormal brain activity and neurotransmitter imbalances, suggesting shared neurological pathways.
  • There is evidence to suggest a genetic predisposition to both migraines and anxiety disorders. Certain genetic factors might contribute to the co-occurrence of these conditions in some individuals.
  • A recent review of anxiety-migraine comorbidity noted that migraine attacks often improve when symptoms of anxiety are treated.

Understanding and addressing the interplay between anxiety and migraines is crucial for effective management. Individuals experiencing both conditions should seek comprehensive evaluation and treatment from qualified healthcare professionals to develop a personalized plan that is directly informed by one’s nuanced needs. A holistic approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of these conditions can significantly improve the overall well-being of affected individuals.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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