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5 Effects That Migraines Can Have On Your Mental Health

by Natalie Wilson

July 2019 - Migraines are so much more than a painful headache. Those that experience migraines on a regular basis often report that they have a detrimental impact on their mental health. There are several health concerns that arise as a result of migraines, and many others that go hand-in-hand with them. People without adequate information about the issues migraines can cause may dismiss symptoms, meaning that the chance for diagnosis is missed until later on.

If you suffer from migraines and want to find out more, read on for 5 effects that they can have on your mental health:

What is a Migraine?

A migraine is a throbbing pain on one side of the head that is persistent. The pain is typically described as being moderate to severe. It can also induce symptoms such as feeling nauseous, being sick, and increased sensitivity to light or sound. They affect 1 in every 5 women and 1 in every 15 men. It’s also been suggested that migraines could be hereditary, as you're more likely to get migraines if you have a close relative with the condition. There are different types of migraine:

Migraine with aura – when there are specific warning signs before the migraine such as seeing flashes of light.

Migraine without aura – when migraines happen without warning.

Migraine aura without headache (silent migraine) – where an aura or other migraine symptoms are experienced, but the actual headache pain doesn't develop.

   1. Depression

If your migraines occur once in a while, then you have double the risk of depression than someone who doesn't get them at all. Similarly, if you experience chronic migraines which occur several times a month, your risk doubles again. There is such a strong link between depression and migraines because often, people with migraines can become depressed because of the terrible pain.

On the other hand, depression can also come first, soon to be followed by painful migraines. People with migraines are three times more likely to have depression and patients with depression are also three times more likely to have a migraine. It causes patients to feel sad, hopeless, fatigued, and disinterested in things they used to enjoy.

   2. Anxiety

Of those suffering from migraines, around 50%-60% will suffer from anxiety. In fact, people with chronic migraines are more likely to have anxiety than they are depression. Similar to depression, the anxiety or the migraines can come first. During a migraine attack, anxiety is often based on worry directly related to the attack, such as wondering how long it will last and when the medication will start to work.

Even when the patient isn't experiencing a migraine, they might become anxious about when their next one will be. Interestingly, patients that have anxiety in life are more likely to develop migraines, and vice versa. If the patient suffers from depression and anxiety, they may need to take separate medication to treat each condition individually.

   3. Increased Fatigue

Many people who experience chronic migraines also feel fatigued. This level of fatigue can last a long time and cannot always be cured with a good night's sleep. Fatigue can then have a knock-on effect on your mental health, as you start to feel sluggish and less engaged. This can cause depression or add to the symptoms of pre-existing depression. What's more, blurred vision and poor co-ordination can also be a side-effect of fatigue. If a patient experiences fatigue, they are more likely to take time off work until they feel well enough to return. Wellness retreats or specialist aesthetic clinic Manchester offers can leave them feeling more rejuvenated and less tired.

   4. Changes in Your Mood

Migraines often develop in distinct stages for many people, the first of which is a change in your mood. In the same way that anxiety can cause patients to worry about an attack, patients can experience a change in their mood before it happens.

Changes in energy levels, behaviour and appetite can occur several hours or even days before having a migraine attack. Then, the actual headache stage occurs, where patients will experience the pulsating or throbbing pain on one side of the head. After, is the resolution stage. Again, at this time, patients are more likely to experience changes in their mood which can last a few days.

   5. Poor Memory

An acute confusional migraine (ACM) is a rare type of migraine that primarily affects teenagers and children. Many are still left undiagnosed but affects around 10% of children and teenagers. When experiencing an acute confusional migraine attack, one of the main symptoms is memory loss. Other symptoms include disorientation, blurred vision and speech impairment. Though this memory loss is only temporary, there is evidence to suggest chronic migraines can impact memory permanently. However, this is still very much a topic undergoing research.



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