Migraines plague many people with debilitating pain and now new research suggests that these pulsating headaches are also linked to anxiety, Teen Vogue reports.
Research from the University of Toronto recently found that people who suffer from anxiety are significantly more likely to also develop a generalized anxiety disorder – three times more likely, in fact. Thus, migraines can be harmful to both physical and mental well-being.
Researchers observed two groups to conduct this study. The smaller group consisted of 2,200 adults who reported they suffer from migraines, while the larger group consisted of 20,000 adults who do not suffer from migraines.
According to the study, 2 percent of participants without migraines experience an anxiety disorder. Comparatively, 6 percent of participants with migraines experience an anxiety disorder.
In a more unexpected turn, the researches also found that men with migraines were more likely to have anxiety than women with migraines.
“We were surprised at the finding because women usually have a higher prevalence of anxiety disorders than men,” Dr. Esme Fuller-Thomson said. One theory for this is that men are less likely to take pain medication.
Study researchers also theorized on the link between migraines and anxiety. The two main theories are that migraines are unpredictable, which can lead to anxiety about one may occur, and that migraine sufferers are often unsupported in their social circles and sometimes even by medical professionals.
“Doctors and other health professionals need to be especially aware of the fact that migraine patients may be experiencing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety disorder,” said Dr. Fuller-Thompson. “Targeted screening for these problems and referral to mental health professionals may be warranted for patients with migraines who are particularly vulnerable.”