No one appreciates the onset of a headache – whether dull or sharp, behind the eyes or covering the surface of the skull, a headache can interfere with work, school, playtime, and one’s overall ability to focus and cope with the stresses of daily life. But for over thirty million Americans, headaches are far more debilitating. This group is afflicted by migraines, a type of headache notable for its intense pain and sustained duration, causing extreme sensitivity to noise and light, and making even the simplest of tasks difficult. Most migraine sufferers find that medicines – whether over the counter or prescribed by a doctor – have little effect on their symptoms. This can result in serious problems in one’s professional and personal life, and is a major concern in modern health care. But a new study published this month in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry suggests that those with depressive disorders are at high risk for migraine headaches, and the converse is true as well.
Those with a long history of migraine headaches are often concurrently diagnosed with depression in a variety of forms, which can stem from feelings of helplessness and futility in connection with migraine symptoms. Working with data compiled by the German National Health review, the new study’s researchers found that those with anxiety and related disorders were significantly more likely to report instances of migraines, as well. In fact, as much as eighty three percent of migraine sufferers were also afflicted by anxiety or a depressive disorder. These conditions may cause more suffering for victims than the headaches themselves, leading doctors to urge patients to seek treatment and therapy for psychiatric complaints as well as actual migraines. The researchers suggest that introducing a course of therapy for either problem will naturally benefit the other.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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