PTSD common in migraine sufferers

Sometimes my migraines feel like this

I posted this article a few years ago, but thought I would re-post due to the fact that I am a major migraine sufferer (this month has been utter hell, as I have had a migraine or “lighter” headache every single day of January).  I’ve never thought that it was tied to my PTSD, as most of mine appear to be caused by the barometric changes, however it could be a possibility.

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) — Adults who suffer migraine headaches are more apt to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the general population, a new study suggests. And having PTSD and migraine may lead to greater headache-related disability.

“Taken together, our findings suggest that identification and treatment of PTSD in migraine sufferers is an important and potentially modifiable part of their care that may reduce migraine-related disability,” Dr. B. Lee Peterlin and colleagues conclude.

Among a group of 593 adults with migraine, PTSD was present in roughly 30 percent of those who suffered chronic daily headaches and about 22 percent of those with “episodic” migraine headaches. By comparison, approximately 8 percent of the population is estimated to have PTSD.

Physical or sexual abuse was reported by about 42 percent of all migraine patients and by 65 percent of migraine patients with PTSD.

“Despite the clinical perception that military combat is the most common (cause), the most common causes of PTSD are interpersonal traumas, including sexual abuse, Peterlin, director of the Drexel University College of Medicine Headache Clinic in Philadelphia, told Reuters Health. In women, the lifetime prevalence of PTSD is twice that of men, the researcher added.

“The implications are such that abuse causes not just psychological distress from PTSD but also physical pain such as migraine,” Peterlin said, and there is an increased disability seen in those migraine sufferers with PTSD than those without PTSD.

The writer of a commentary published with the study suggests future studies evaluate how a PTSD diagnosis modifies headache treatment.

“Pharmacologically,” notes Dr. James L. Griffith of George Washington University, Washington, D.C., “dual action antidepressants have efficacy for both migraine and PTSD, but the serotonin-reuptake inhibitor antidepressants regarded as first-line treatments for PTSD have performed poorly for migraine prophylaxis.”

SOURCE: Headache April 2009.  by Megan Rauscher


4 thoughts on “PTSD common in migraine sufferers

    • cherished79 says:

      Thanks for your comment. I know all too well what it’s like living with migraine headaches, and after years and years and too many neurologists, I finally found one that prescribed the right “stuff”. The med I am on though, has only been on the market for about 12 years or so – but no excuse to the other docs who kept handing me Tylenol 3’s.


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