Can Stress Cause a Migraine?

Can stress cause a migraine?

Man suffering from a stress induced migraine

 According to research, stress is the most common migraine trigger. Migraines are primarily known for causing extreme, and throbbing pain in specific areas around the head. Because of their disabling nature, victims of these headaches end up seeing their doctors, more often than not. So, while we cannot link every migraine to stress, there is a justifiable link between your body’s stress levels and the frequent migraines you have been experiencing. Let’s explore further!

What’s the Connection Between Stress and Migraines?

If you’re already suffering from migraines, being stressed can worsen your symptoms. Health experts indicate that stress can trigger migraine episodes in many ways. For instance, some people tend to experience more migraines when going through acute stress. Also, if your body is used to being under so much stress, you might notice some migraine symptoms when your stress levels drop unexpectedly. 

That said, we cannot deny the fact that migraines are stressful on their own. So, having them frequently can easily form a pattern of stress and chronic pain. How? 

They alter your brain’s natural operating tendencies, affecting its networks both structurally and functionally. As a result, your brain now begins to abnormally respond to both psychological and physiological environmental conditions.

In simpler terms, once the brain is frequently subjected to stressful situations, it develops a defense mechanism, better yet known as maladaptive coping mechanism. It’s these mechanisms that lead to chronic migraines. 

But, stress doesn’t always directly lead to migraines. However, it can lead to some behavioral changes triggering frequent episodes. For instance, stressors can cause you to:

  • Lack enough sleep
  • Experience some muscle rigidity around your jaw, back, or even neck
  • Use more stress-relieving substances such as alcohol and other drugs.
  • Eat little or no food
  • Skip taking your medications
  • Take more/less caffeine than usual

The worst part is that these factors point to more migraine episodes. So, to prevent this from happening, it’s best to break the cycle. But how?

Lowering Stress Levels

The trickiest thing about stress is the inability of most people to identify when it strikes. It tends to sneak into one’s life, and if you aren’t careful, you might have to live with it for the rest of your life. So, you must be willing to take charge and implement various steps to lower your stress levels and prevent them from triggering your migraines

Avoid Stress

While this is easier said than done, it’s possible to avoid stressful situations. Yes, you might not be able to do this all the time, but do step out for a breather whenever you can. The best way to do this is to identify activities and environments that easily cause you stress and anxiety and opt-out. 

Adapt Relaxation Techniques

From deep breathing, yoga, nature walks, and meditating to napping, there are various workable relaxation techniques you can use to relax your body and keep stress away. See what works best for you and implement it in your daily life.

Pay Attention to your General Wellbeing

Quit forcing yourself to act normal when you are not. Begin to acknowledge those tired episodes and take time off to rest. Sleep when you need to and have an exercise routine. Also, ensure you eat well-balanced three meals a day, with plenty of water in-between.

Migraines are terrible, and they aren’t something you would want to experience over and over again. Don’t suffer in silence, always seek professional help