Migraine prevention – Migraine and stress

A recently published article has examined the relationship between stress and migraines. Published in the French journal Revue Neurologique, the article suggests that stress-relief therapies may even be of use in a migraine prevention setting.

The authors discuss the complex relationship between stress and migraines and review the evidence in favour of a link between the two conditions.

Migraine and stress

It is reported that between 50% and 80% of patients who suffer with migraines cite stress as a trigger for their attacks.

The relationship between migraines and acute stress versus more chronic symptoms is also discussed, with evidence suggesting that long-term stress can be linked to “migraine chronification”, possibly caused by the relationship between chronic stress and pain sensitivity.

Digging deeper into the causes of stress, the authors also discuss the influence of childhood trauma such as abuse, and reveal that adverse events during childhood are more common in people who suffer with migraines than in those who do not. However, the authors do state that the possibility of a causal link between childhood abuse and adult migraine is not yet supported by a prospective study.

Another possible link that is investigated is that between migraine and stress-related psychiatric disorders, which is supported by convincing data from various large-scale studies.

Based on the findings reviewed, the authors suggest that stress management therapies may be of use in the prevention of migraine, and provide evidence to support the use of relaxation therapies, biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapies for stress management in migraine prophylaxis, particularly in children.

While it is acknowledged by the authors that as yet, the evidence consists of studies with relatively poor methodology, it is also noted that stress management is included in clinical treatment recommendations for migraine, making this an interesting area for further research and clinical consideration.


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