Comorbidities: Anxiety

Just as with depression, anxiety is commonly associated with migraine attacks. Researchers have observed a higher prevalence of this condition in the migraine population than the non-migraine population.

There is such a strong comorbid relationship between anxiety and migraine that some researchers believe it is a stronger correlation than between depression and migraine disease.

Anxiety is characterized as a state of worry or fear that can range from mild to extremely debilitating and that is manifested through physical reactions to this worry and fear. Anxiety becomes problematic when an individual's reaction is out of proportion to the situation and interferes with his or her ability to do the things he or she needs and wants to do in life.

In a 2004 study researchers reported finding a significant correlation between anxiety disorders and migraine disease. In that study 9.1% of migraineurs experienced anxiety, while only 2.5% of the non-migraine population did. Even after researchers adjusted for other variables, including other common pain conditions such as back pain and arthritis, migraine's correlation with anxiety was more significant.

In another research study of young adults, the greatest correlation between anxiety and migraine were for two specific types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder and social phobia.

The important takeaway about the relationship between these two conditions is the point that appropriate treatment of one condition is often helpful to the improvement of the other condition. As with depression and migraine disease, anxiety and migraine have a relationship in which worsening of one condition can lead to worsening of the other condition and round and round.

Anxiety is often successfully treated with psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based therapy. Relaxation techniques, exercise and stress management strategies can also be incredibly helpful.

References: Psychiatric Comorbidity of Migraine: Migraine& Anxiety Disorders -- > What is Anxiety? A Guide to Anxiety

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