Headaches May Hurt More Than You Realize

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.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • kea

    kea

    January 26th, 2009 at 2:02 AM

    I am very fortunate to not having migraines. I know lots of people who do and wonder why the medication does not help. I wish there were more that doctors could do to help alleviate their migraines.

  • Daniella

    Daniella

    January 26th, 2009 at 2:03 AM

    I usually get the sinus pressure… not really a headache but a dull ache due to sinus… This alone sometimes prevents me from doing a job 100%

  • Allie

    Allie

    January 26th, 2009 at 2:04 AM

    Migraines are still a mystery to me… some people have these terrible headaches while others never have them. Could migraines also be genetic?

  • Tessa

    Tessa

    January 26th, 2009 at 4:37 AM

    I suffer from migraines and I know first hand how debilitating they can be and just how helpless they can make you feel. You try to avoid certain things that you are sure are what cause the headaches and then boom! Something else will trigger it. I have never been clinically depressed thank goodness but I know there have been times when I feel that I have lost so much of my life due to migraines and the sickness that they have caused me. It is easy for me to see why others who suffer from them could easily go into a decline and become depressed. When you have one there is nothing you can do to get past it but wait it out and that is not a good feeling at all. Hopefully one day there will be a more clear cut idea of what causes these and there will be some better treatments on the market for those of us who have to live with them.

  • Jennica

    Jennica

    January 26th, 2009 at 8:21 AM

    From what I hear of migraines I can understand as well why some may be depressed. As painful as migraines can be, it would drive anyone be upset, depressed and just plain tired of the whole mess. I hope something comes out to help with this.

  • Meleah

    Meleah

    January 27th, 2009 at 2:16 AM

    My mother suffers from these migraines and it is hard to see her go thru this pain. There’s nothing I can do and the medicine she takes rarely works. She just tells me that it will just have to pass, but what can one do to help lift the pain somewhat.

  • Tanna

    Tanna

    January 27th, 2009 at 2:22 AM

    I wish there were more studies and remedies for this type of headache. It affects so many and intereferes in daily lives when you have a job to do.

  • Timothy

    Timothy

    January 27th, 2009 at 2:58 AM

    I dont know what comes first – the migraine or the depression. When u r depressed persistently you get a headache. When u get headaches often u get depressed. I’ve seen my mother have migraine attacks for 40 years now and I think she has tried every kind of treatment under the sun but it has persisted with the years.

  • Aimee

    Aimee

    January 27th, 2009 at 5:28 AM

    I have had great success with Topamax and treating my migraines. has anyone else out there tried this?

  • Viola

    Viola

    January 28th, 2009 at 1:51 AM

    This was a very interesting article and having suffered from migraine attacks for 10 years I found yoga, tai chi and mild pain killers worked for me. I guess everyone has their own medicine.

  • Sue

    Sue

    January 28th, 2009 at 5:30 AM

    I have never had a migraine and hope I never will! I know that this has to be something genetic to getting migraines because they do seem to run in families. My mother in law suffers from the occassional one but not enough to completely cripple her life. However I am sure that this could easily happen to some people if they experience them with regular frequency.

  • Noelle

    Noelle

    January 29th, 2009 at 5:25 AM

    It seems that more females suffer from migraines than men do. Is this true?

  • Michelle

    Michelle

    January 30th, 2009 at 11:27 PM

    I was thinking the same thing as Noelle. More women seem to suffer from migraines. Havent heard my male colleagues complain till today of one. I wonder whether it is because women seem to internalize their problems a lot more than men.

  • Andy

    Andy

    January 30th, 2009 at 11:28 PM

    Sinal headaches can be bad as well. I have had a little relief with acupuncture and I think it helps with migraines too.

  • Nikki

    Nikki

    January 31st, 2009 at 9:07 AM

    If you have never had a migraine headache then you have no idea how devastating they can be. It is one of the most horrible pains you could ever imagine and it is so long lived that you might often feel like you just want to die. And the bad thing is that even once they go away I feel almost dazed and stunned for days afterward. I have never experienced a serious depression because of them but let me tell you something. I try to at all costs avoid those things which I know are my migraine triggers. Of course there have been times when one has completely sneaked up on me but I do everything that I can to stay far away from things that I know are more likely to bring one on.

  • Kelsey

    Kelsey

    February 3rd, 2009 at 1:51 PM

    Can anyone out there tell me if headaches, frequent ones, are associated with depression? My husband is really depressed right now and has had a headache for days but will not talk to his doctors about it, just keeps popping more and more Advil but with no help. Could this be brought on by his medication (Zoloft) or the depresison itself?

  • Tressa

    Tressa

    March 16th, 2009 at 7:11 AM

    I wish there were more studies, medicine and help for people who suffer from migraines. I know there are meds out there to relieve the pain somewhat, but nothing to actually relieve it significantly.

  • Jane Watson

    Jane Watson

    May 20th, 2009 at 5:57 AM

    Very nice article on migraines. Thanks for the great tips!

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