Can Stress and Anxiety Cause Migraines?

Reviewed on 7/14/2021

The cause of migraines is unknown, but it is possibly caused by genetics and environment. Stress and anxiety are common migraine triggers. Other triggers include anger, poor sleep, hunger/skipping meals, exposure to smoke, bright lights, certain smells, fatigue, caffeine withdrawal.
The cause of migraines is unknown, but it is possibly caused by genetics and environment. Stress and anxiety are common migraine triggers. Other triggers include anger, poor sleep, hunger/skipping meals, exposure to smoke, bright lights, certain smells, fatigue, caffeine withdrawal.

A migraine headache is a neurological disorder that is different from other types of headache disorders. Migraines tend to cause severe head pain along with sensitivity to light, sound, or smells.

It is unknown exactly what causes migraines, but genetics and environment play a role. 

Stress and anxiety are common migraine triggers. Other migraine headache triggers include: 

What Are Symptoms of Migraines?

Symptoms of migraines may vary from person to person and from migraine to migraine. Symptoms of migraine are usually described in five phases: 

  • Prodrome: warnings before a migraine
    • Mood changes
    • Subtle changes in sensations such as an unusual taste or smell
    • Muscle tension 
    • Fatigue
  • Aura: visual disturbances that precede the headache phase
    • Blind spots (scotomas)
    • Geometric patterns or flashing, colorful lights
    • Loss of vision on one side (hemianopsia)
  • Headache
    • May last 4-72 hours
    • Usually occurs on one side of the head, but may occur on both sides
    • Throbbing pain 
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Sensitivity to light (photophobia) 
    • Sensitivity to sound (phonophobia)
  • Headache termination
    • Pain usually goes away with sleep, even if the migraine is not treated
  • Postdrome: other signs can linger after the pain goes away
    • Inability to eat
    • Problems concentrating
    • Fatigue

QUESTION

A migraine is a result of neurological (nerve) dysfunction. See Answer

What Is the Treatment for Migraines?

Treatment for migraine headaches includes: 

  • Non-medical treatments
    • Ice 
    • Heat
    • Hydration
    • A dark room/covering your eyes
    • Deep breathing
    • Massage
    • Rest
    • Biofeedback
  • Pain relievers
  • Other medications
    • Triptans
    • Trigger point injections
    • OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox)
  • Antiemetics
  • Selective serotonin 1F receptor agonist
    • Lasmiditan (Reyvow)
  • Calcitonin-gene related peptide (CGRP) antagonists
    • Rimegepant (Nurtec)
    • Ubrogepant (Ubrelvy)
  • Ergotamine preparations
  • Neuromodulation
    • Transcutaneous supraorbital nerve stimulation 
    • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) 
    • Remote electrical neuromodulation 
    • Noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation (nVNS) 
  • Peripheral nerve blocks
    • Occipital nerve blocks 
    • Sphenopalatine ganglion blocks 

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Reviewed on 7/14/2021
References
https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/what-is-migraine/

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/migraines-in-adults-beyond-the-basics?search=migraine&source=search_result&selectedTitle=3~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=3

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/acute-treatment-of-migraine-in-adults?search=headache%20treatment&source=search_result&selectedTitle=7~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=7

https://www.migraineagain.com/how-to-get-rid-of-a-migraine-fast/