Migraine and abuse

Over the last decade, there has been an increased interest in the link between physical or sexual abuse and migraines. In the February issue of the journal Headache, researchers studied a group of young women with migraine in Lima, Peru. Among these women, 47 percent had been victims of physical or sexual violence by their spouse or intimate partner, compared with 36 percent of young women without migraine. After adjusting for other potentially confounding factors, this study found that having been the victim of abuse increased your risk for having migraine by over 40 percent. If abused women also experienced symptoms of depression, they had over double the risk of having migraine.

What does this study tell us:

  • If you have or are the victim of physical or sexual abuse, you're not alone. Nearly 2 of 5 women in this study had been abused by an intimate partner.
  • Having been abused makes it more likely that you will experience migraines.
  • Having been abused AND having problems with depression more than doubles your risk of having migraines.

Have you been the victim of abuse or wonder if what you're going through would "count" as abuse? Check out these Internet resources to help you recognize abuse and get the help you need:

Don't suffer in silence. Tell a friend, a relative, or your doctor about the abuse. Review the steps detailed on the Mayo Clinic web site about finding help and creating a safety plan. Abuse is serious. Abuse is dangerous. And it's important that doctors are taking the consequences of abuse seriously.

Read more on migraine and abuse from Dr. Marcus here:
Migraine & Childhood Abuse
Follow-up On Childhood Abuse and Migraine Report

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