Weekend Migraines – What Causes Them and What Can You Do?

When the weekend comes, you get the chance to relax and recharge following the stresses of the week. Great – you get some you-time to enjoy. Not if you suffer from “weekend migraines”.



These migraines, also known as letdown migraines, are frustratingly common among migraine sufferers. These migraines seem to be triggered by the release of stress, so just when the stressful time ends, that’s when you get hit with a migraine attack.


It might sound strange, but there’s a sound physiological reason behind why these migraines occur.


When we’re stressed, the body releases glucocorticoids, which are steroid hormones secreted by the adrenal gland. These hormones are highly effective at reducing inflammation. In fact, because they’re so key to reducing inflammation, synthetic versions of glucocorticoids are used to help treat allergies and arthritis.


When we are not stressed, or stop being stressed following a stressful period of time (such as a busy week at work), our body relaxes and the level of glucocorticoids reduces, making us more susceptible to bodily inflammation and migraines. Between six hours and forty-eight hours after the drop in stress, a migraine attack can begin as a result.


So what can you do?


First things first, don’t try to stay stressed to avoid the drop in glucocorticoids! Stress is bad for our health in so many ways, so we want to limit our stress as much as possible. Instead, ideally what we want to do is to reduce our ongoing stress levels overall.


Taking regular breaks throughout the day to check in with yourself and keep your stress levels in check will do wonders. Even taking just a few minutes to watch a couple of funny videos on YouTube can help to bring your stress levels down. Short walks can also help to combat stress hormones, especially if they are walks taken outside. Although, if you’re stuck in a busy office and feel the stress levels rising, simply walking up and down a couple of flights of stairs will still help.


The take-away message is, if you suffer from weekend migraines, try to take regular mini breaks throughout the day to stop the flight or fight stress response from taking hold. Lower stress overall should mean fewer letdown migraines!

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