Can being startled trigger a migraine?

Recently a reader on made a comment online about how one of her surefire migraine triggers is being startled.  This struck a chord with me, as I am infamous in my family and friend circles for being startled easily, and it’s hard for me to physically calm down after having a big scare (even if I was startled or scared by the silliest of things).

I remember a few years ago being in the car with a friend and getting *this* close to being hit by a car that ran a red light.  I gasped, slammed on the brakes, and was lucky enough to not be hit.  But it took me a long time to come down from that terrifying moment. The following describes  what it feels like when I get startled, even by the most innocuous of things. My chest seizes for a moment—there’s no pain there, but it feels like I’m living a cliche: “My heart skips a beat.” The feeling echoes a second later in my arms, making me feel for just a moment that someone has turned a switch that turns the electricity in my arms off and then back on again.  My heart pounds, and it takes me anywhere from fifteen seconds to five minutes to notice that my body is physically calm. Even if I have no logical, conscious worries, my brain reacts to big surprises as if my body was actually in real danger.

What I have never thought about—until that reader’s comment, that is—is if being startled will trigger a migraine for me. This has prompted me to start trying to pay better attention to what happens in my body in the minutes and hours after having a big scare.

Again, let me emphasize how easily I get freaked out. In 99.5% of the cases, I laugh it off. Maybe the window open in the living room has created a draft that makes the front door slam suddenly. Perhaps I’m deep in another world, reading a book and my cell phone, perched by my head, suddenly rings loudly. Or, on a more serious note, maybe I am walking through town and a car avoids hitting me by mere inches. In all of those examples, the above-described reactions take place in my body. I pay attention at the time but don’t really think much about the situations after my heart rate goes back to normal.

Now I really want to pay closer attention to see if a migraine emerges as a result of being startled.

What do you guys think? Have you ever had a migraine triggered by this? If so, how did you figure it out?  Do you have any tips or tricks that could help the rest of us determine if this is a trigger? (Many of us are already recording our sleep times, what we ate/drank, etc. in our migraine diaries/journals—should we also mark down every time we get freaked out/startled?)

As always, thanks for reading, and any insight/feedback is more than welcome.

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