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Can Stress Prevent Migraines?

Usually we think of stress as a migraine trigger and it certainly can be for me. This month I found something very surprising. As of today, Oct 23, I have only had 5 migraine attacks. I went 11 days between attacks. Usually I experience 12-14 attacks per month. What happened?

There is no change in meds. First thought was seasonal. I keep good records of my migraine frequency going back 5 years. Historically, fall is a bad time for my migraines.

Something that is going on is high stress lately. My tinnitus is screaming in my brain, and other symptoms tell it. Can higher cortisol levels or other stress hormones prevent migraines? The strange thing is last year at this exact time I was also under high stress, only higher, for the exact same situation. Last year was bad. I am at a loss.


  1. Great question!! I'm not sure about high cortisol levels and migraine prevention. In a quick Google search I didn't see much about increased cortisol levels and migraine prevention, but that doesn't mean it's not possible!
    I'll be interested what others have to say about this! Good to hear you are feeling better! Nancy Harris Bonk, Patient Leader/Moderator Migraine.com Team

    1. Migraine doesn't always behave like we think it will. Just when we think we've got it somewhat figured out, it morphs, and our pattern changes. Cortisol levels rise when we are in stressful situations. I've read several papers on how rising and falling cortisol levels correlate to headaches. One type of migraine is called a 'let down' migraine. These tend to happen after we come out of a stressful situation and our cortisol levels drop off. It may be that your sustained high stress is keeping your levels high enough to ward off more frequent migraine episodes. Cortisol affects many of our bodily systems. Your doctor can check your cortisol levels if that's something you want to explore. My husband wrote an article on let down migraine, as well as others. Here are a couple of links if you want to explore them.
      https://migraine.com/living-migraine/low-stress-triggers-attacks
      https://migraine.com/migraine-types/stress-migraine
      https://migraine.com/living-migraine/navigating-let-down-migraine
      I hope the articles are helpful. Let me know what you think. Warmly, Cheryl migraine.com team

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