Approximately 29.5 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches every year. Known for their tendency to cause intense, throbbing pain in concentrated areas of the head, migraines are the most common form of disabling headache sending patients to see their doctors. While not every migraine is anxiety-induced, there are definitely links between our levels of stress and chronic migraines.
The Connection Between Stress and Chronic Migraines
If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know you don’t want to have another one. Therefore, you’re willing to go out of your way to avoid things that trigger migraine headaches.
Common triggers for migraines may include
- Menstrual cycles
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Certain foods and drinks
- Varying levels of caffeine consumption
- Exercise and exertion
- Bright, flickering lights
- Stress and Anxiety
One of the reasons stress and anxiety tend to trigger migraines because it alters patterns to the brain’s “allostatic load.”
What Happens in the Brain
Repeated stressors can reorder the brain’s natural physiological systems, including the “allostatic load.”
In the case of the brain, the effects of repeated stress may lead to alteration in brain networks both functionally and structurally. As a result the brain responds abnormally to environmental conditions (psychological or physiological). (NCBI)
In other words, when our brains are routinely subjected to stressors, they develop “maladaptive coping mechanisms” that can lead to chronic migraines.
In order to keep that from happening, we must disrupt the cycle.
Lowering Stress Levels
In most cases, stress does not just naturally vanish from our lives. We must take proactive steps to lower our stress levels and keep migraines from being triggered.
Avoid Stressful Situations
Whenever possible, we should avoid the sorts of situations that cause us the most stress. While it’s not possible to do this in every case, opting out of the types of activities and environments that bring stress and anxiety can be a good first step.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Meditation, deep breathing, singing, Yoga, stretching, napping—working one or more of these common relaxation techniques into our daily lives could be an excellent measure to take if we hope to guard against migraines.
Focus on Holistic Health
When we’re not feeling well—when we’re tired and run-down—we’re much less able to cope with even the simplest daily stresses of life.
That’s why focusing on basic holistic health measures can be so important.
- Getting 6-8 hours of sleep per night on a consistent schedule
- Eating three balanced meals per day
- Drinking plenty of water
- Establishing exercise routines
These simple, holistic self-care practices can put you in much better health overall, making it much more likely not only that you’ll feel less stressed and more able to cope when problems arise but also that you’ll be able to break the chronic migraine cycle.
Southern Pain Clinic Can Help
Migraine headaches can be debilitating. Fortunately, you don’t have to suffer alone. Help is available.
For information on how you can find relief from chronic headaches and tools to reach a diagnosis and helpful treatments, please contact Southern Pain Clinic today.
We look forward to hearing from you.