migraines and anxiety

Anxiety Disorders and Migraines? What’s the Connection?

Doctors know that people who suffer from anxiety may have more migraines than those who do not. Many people who have chronic migraines also may have a generalized anxiety disorder.

There is debate, however, whether migraines cause anxiety, or the opposite is true, and anxiety causes migraines.

What Is a Migraine Headache?

Migraines are severe headaches that often involve feelings of sharp pain behind your temples, eyes, or ears. In some cases, people also experience sensitivity to light, nausea, and vomiting. Migraines can last from a few hours to several days.

Does Anxiety Cause Migraines?

Migraine causes differ from person to person. If you have a history of migraines, a predisposition to migraines, or if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you may have a higher likelihood of developing migraine headaches, said Michael Korzi, a senior physician assistant at Gateway Medical Group–UPMC in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

For more information, or to find a primary care doctors, visit www.UPMC.com/PCP or call 1-855-676-UPMCPCP.

Panic attacks and feelings of anxiety can prompt migraines. For example, if anxiety keeps you from sleeping well, you may become increasingly anxious about your ability to function due to lack of sleep. This heightened level of anxiety can, in turn, trigger a migraine.

Can Migraines Cause Anxiety?

On the other hand, some doctors believe that experiencing frequent migraines is a sign that a person has an anxiety disorder.

Migraines can be a major factor in the development of a generalized anxiety disorder. Symptoms of migraines that can cause anxiety include:

  • Continual pain
  • Lack of sleep
  • Sensitivity to one’s surroundings

Symptoms associated with migraines, such as nausea, can cause anxiety in some people. Sensing that a migraine is coming also may lead to feelings of unease.

How to Manage Migraine Headaches and Anxiety

The most common recommendations to treat migraines include:

Keep track of when you have migraines and anxiety, and what you were doing beforehand. This can help you figure out what contributes to your anxiety and migraines.

If you still cannot find relief, talk to your doctor. Some medications treat anxiety in addition to migraine pain. Your doctor may also suggest counseling to help cope with migraine symptoms, especially if you already have an anxiety disorder.