Migraine and Mental Health: Is There a Link?

By: carla December 22, 2022 no comments

Migraine and Mental Health: Is There a Link?

Migraine suffers commonly develop depression and anxiety, like many other people with chronic conditions, and depression and anxiety often breed migraines.

Both conditions can be caused by a serotonin dysfunction, including genetic mutations that disrupt serotonin signaling in people with migraines or anxiety/depression.

In some cases, depression or anxiety develops months or years after migraines. Sometimes people diagnosed with depression or anxiety eventually develop migraines after months or years of the diagnosis.

What causes migraines?


Most people diagnosed with migraines have reported stress to be a key trigger. The high levels of stress and migraine connection occur more in women than in men. Some people experience migraines during regular stressful situations; others experience them after a major stressful event.

Lack of sleep

Getting enough sleep can help you avoid many diseases, including migraines. Enough sleep will help regulate your immune system, memory, internal organs, and learning abilities. When you don’t get enough rest, all these functions are negatively affected, leading to mental and physical complications.

Hormonal changes

If you suffer from migraines, you may notice you’re more prone to developing a migraine attack before or after menstruating. These menstrual migraines are caused by hormonal changes. When progesterone and estrogen levels drop before and during menstruation, the rise and fall of hormones cause blood vessels to constrict, resulting in migraines

Study shows the link between migraines and depression

The draining symptoms of migraines

Pain is only one of the symptoms of a migraine attack. Other signs and symptoms that you may experience include:

  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating or chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue

The symptoms of migraines often correlate to the phase of the migraine that’s occurring. This means that you could experience a variety of different symptoms during the duration of the migraine attack.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

CBT can be useful for those looking to manage stress or change responses that may be contributing to feelings of anxiety and depression.

This common form of talk therapy works by helping you become aware of negative thinking. It also helps you understand how your thoughts and beliefs translate to your behavior.

CBT was shown to benefit people with migraine in one small 2019 study Trusted Source and more research is currently ongoing for migraine-specific CBT.

During CBT, you work alongside therapists to learn how to view difficult situations with more clarity, which can help you to respond in more effective ways.

Other treatment and coping strategies to consider:

  • Discuss medication: There are a number of different antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications available, however your doctor will first need to consider the medications you’re already taking as well as other health problems.
  • Get moving. Exercise is often a first-line treatment for mild to moderate depression, and if you exercise outdoors, even better as you’ll get an extra mood boost from  vitamin D. Speak with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
  • Seek support. Emotionally, migraine can make you feel isolated and misunderstood, particularly if you don’t know anyone living with the condition. This is why it’s important to reach out to others and join an online or in-person support group made up of those who know exactly what you’re going through.




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