Migraines and PTSD often occur together

Research at Drexel University has found that those who experience chonic headaches and migraines also have post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, more frequently than those who do not suffer from migraines. The research also suggests that patients who experience both conditions could develop other headache-related conditions. The study suggests that treating post traumatic stress in migraine sufferers can be an important aspect of their headache treatment.

Migraines are a specific type of throbbing headache that typically occurs only one side of the head, and can include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to sound and light. Migraines can occur several times a month, or less than once a month. The length varies from a few hours to a few days. The pain can be moderate or severe and debilitating.

Post traumatic stress disorder is a long-term anxiety disorder that develops after a traumatic event. Those who develop PTSD have typically experienced a life-threatening event including violent assault, natural disasters, human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. Symptoms include persistent thoughts and memories of the event, losing touch with reality, emotional numbness or detachment, emotional distance with loved ones, sleeping problems, and being easily startled.

The Drexel study, led by Dr. B. Lee Peterlin, looked at around 600 migraine patients and found that 30 percent of chronic daily headache sufferers also had PTSD. PTSD was found in 22 percent of 'episodic' migraine sufferers. It is believed that only eight percent of the general population has post traumatic stress disorder, showing that headache sufferers are considerably more likely to be PTSD sufferers.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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