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Gender Differences with Co-Morbid Migraines and PTSD

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Migraine  related image Photo: Getty Images

Migraines, a common type of headache, affect about 36 million people in the United States, which is around 12 percent of the population, according to the American Migraine Foundation. When a person has a migraine, she may have a throbbing or pulsating sensation in her head, which may be worse on one side. These headaches can last between six and 48 hours, with some patients having a migraine “hangover”, in which they have symptoms such as neck pain and trouble thinking clearly after the migraine has gone away. A migraine occurs when there is abnormal activity in the brain. This change in neurological activity can be caused by several factors, include stress, exercise, certain smells, bright lights and alcohol.

People with migraines are more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. About 7.7 million adults in the United States have this anxiety disorder, noted the National Institute of Mental Health. Megan Rauscher of Reuters Health reported that a 2009 study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain found that out of 593 adults suffering with migraines, about 30 percent of participants with chronic daily headaches and about 22 percent of participants with “episodic” headaches met criteria for PTSD, which is a higher percentage than that in the general population.

While both PTSD and migraines are more common in women — migraines affect three times as many woman as men, according to the American Migraine Foundation — a new study published in Headache found that the risk of both conditions are higher in men. Authors B. Lee Peterlin, D.O., Satnam S. Nijjar, M.D. and Gretchen E. Tietjen, M.D. reviewed the epidemiology of the two conditions and found that men who have migraine have a four times greater risk of developing PTSD compared to women with migraine. This suggests that sex hormones play a role in the co-morbidity.

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I pray I don't have PTSD. I'm a daily chronic migraine sufferer, I don't need another thing piled on. I have about 4 days out of the month that I can actually function and I'm only 24 years old.

September 23, 2011 - 7:46pm
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