Understanding The Links Between Migraines and Mental Health

If you’ve ever suffered from a migraine, you understand how debilitating they can be. A migraine is no ordinary headache. The pain is much more severe, and there are often other uncomfortable symptoms that go along with a migraine including nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

People who have chronic migraines often find that it’s difficult to maintain their daily lives and adhere to their responsibilities when they’re suffering from the pain, and few treatments can do much for migraines. There are some preventative options, but they don’t always work for people, and there are treatments you can take when a migraine has already started, but they tend to have side effects of their own.

What people may not realize is that there’s a link between migraines and mental health, so if you understand this relationship, you can speak to your mental health care provider about options that may be available to you.


There are potential links between migraines and depression, and it’s described as a bidirectional relationship. This means that for some people, having migraines can then lead to depression, while for other people they may have depression first and then develop migraines.

If someone who suffers from depression and migraines can speak with their healthcare provider about both, it might improve the outcomes, because there may be a more effective treatment route that can be uncovered.

It’s estimated that up to 40% of people with migraines also experience depression. There are also links between migraines and bipolar disorder.


Another mental health condition that’s frequently linked with migraines is anxiety. Migraines are a common symptom of various anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder. There is some research showing that people who are predisposed to anxiety may be more likely also to have migraines.

In many cases, a mental health disorder like anxiety will be diagnosed after migraines are diagnosed.

Along with anxiety, people with posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD are more likely to suffer from migraines as compared to the general population.


If your mental health care provider or your physician can uncover that you suffer from not only migraines but another co-occurring mental health disorder, it can mean a better chance to create an effective treatment plan.

Just one of many examples of this is the use of beta blockers. Beta blockers are a class of drugs that can be used to treat many of the physical symptoms of anxiety, and they can also be helpful in preventing migraines.

There are also studies that indicate people with migraines may benefit from behavioral therapies that are also used to treat the symptoms of mental health or mood disorders. For example, biofeedback training is one example of a treatment approach that could be helpful to tackle the symptoms of both anxiety and migraines.

It’s important that with migraines and mental health conditions that all areas of concern are thoroughly addressed because otherwise, the symptoms are likely to be recurring.


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