Headaches can be debilitating, interfering with people’s abilities to do their jobs, care for their children, or even just sit in a chair. Despite increased research into headaches, though, headache rates continue to rise. Forty-five million Americans each year face chronic headaches, and the incidence of headaches among children rose from 14% to 50% between 1972 and 1991. It should come as no surprise that those who face frequent pain may become anxious or depressed, but a new study suggests that a history of mental health issues may actually increase the likelihood of experiencing headaches.
Do Mental Health Issues Cause Headaches?
Previous research has found a tentative connection between headaches and mental health difficulties. For instance, a 2002 study found that migraines were more common among those with bipolar. Other research suggests that headaches are about twice as common in people with depression and anxiety. There’s also plenty of data suggesting that chronic stress—including that associated with mental health difficulties—can lead to chronic tension headaches.
The study’s authors argue that their data suggests that a history of mental health problems could increase the likelihood of subsequently developing headaches. The study was published in the Journal of Pain.
- Fasmer, O. B., MD, & Oedegaard, K. J., MD. (2002, August 1). Are migraines and bipolar disorder related? Retrieved from http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/bipolar-disorder/are-migraines-and-bipolar-disorder-related-0
- Study assesses link of preexisting mental disorders with chronic headaches. (2015, February 24). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150224091703.htm
- Yount, K. A., DDS, MAGD, FAGD. (n.d.). Tension headaches. Retrieved from http://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/pain/headache/tension-headache/tension-headaches
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