What’s the Connection Between Stress and Migraines?

By Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Table of Contents


Migraine is a common condition that affects one in four people. The pain and discomfort of a migraine can be debilitating, and it’s important to find the right treatment for each individual.

Migraine is complicated, and the main leading trigger of migraine is stress. There’s not one thing about your condition that’s simple. There is a throbbing headache, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound that may persist for days.

If you’re thinking that this complexity means you can’t change anything about your migraine and you’re stuck with it forever and stressed, you’re wrong! With the right treatment plan in place, you can make changes to your lifestyle that will help reduce or even eliminate your migraines completely!

Stress and Migraine

Stress is a huge contributor to migraines. A little stress can make a big difference in how often you have a migraine, but chronic stress can be the reason behind your migraines.

Stress is a leading trigger of migraine headaches, according to the National Headache Foundation.

Stress can cause changes in your body chemistry and make it harder for your brain to regulate pain.

According to research, when a person has had high-stress levels in the previous year, they are likely to Submit migraine earlier.

Chronic stress can lead to chronic migraine.

Past history of abuse or childhood trauma may trigger stress and, in turn, migraine.

Symptoms of Stress

  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Chest pain
  • Reduced or increased appetite
  • Muscle tension
  • Depression

How Stress Affects Migraine?

Stress is a huge factor in migraines. When people are in stress, the body releases a number of stress hormones (cortisol, norepinephrine).

These can increase blood pressure and heart rate, which can make you feel more anxious or nervous.

It can alter the way your neurons communicate with one another, leading to headaches.

This is because when your neurons fire too much, they don’t have time to recover before they have to fire again.

This leads to a lot of pain, and increased pain sensitivity makes it harder for you to cope with stress.

Symptoms of Migraine

Migraine is a common condition that can cause pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of vision, and other symptoms.

There are four phases of migraine.

  • Prodromal
  • Aura
  • Migraine attack
  • Post-dromal

A migraine is a headache that can last from a few hours to more than a week.

There are several stages of migraines, and you may experience multiple stages of the same migraine before being able to treat your symptoms.

Prodromal stage

The prodrome (the “warning” stage), appears before the aura.

During prodrome, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, yawning, sugar cravings, and increased sensitivity to light and sound before an attack occurs.


This is your warning sign that you’re about to have a migraine. It happens in between attacks, and it can last anywhere from two minutes to an hour or so.

Auras often increase pain sensitivity and cause numbness around your face, arms, or other parts of your body.

They can be accompanied by visual disturbances such as flashing lights or zigzag lines that move across your field of vision (called scintillating scotomata), dizziness, nausea, and weakness in some areas of your body (called paresthesias).


This is when the pain of the aura becomes more intense and lasts for up to three hours for most people with typical migraines; it usually begins just after the aura ends but sometimes occurs as soon as a few minutes later.

The pain associated with an attack usually starts on one side and spreads to the other side.


This phase is also defined as a migraine hangover.

The patient will still feel nausea, depression, reduced concentration, and fatigue-like symptoms for days.

How to Treat Stress Migraine?

How do you know if stress is causing your migraines?

If you Submit headache all of a sudden while dealing with completing day-to-day targets and you don’t have any other symptoms besides headaches, it could be a stress-induced migraine.

If this happens to you, try taking some steps toward reducing stress in your life.

There are three basic methods to follow to reduce stress in your life. lifestyle modifications, medicines, certain physical and mental therapies.

Lifestyle Modifications

  • Spend more time with friends and family who make you feel good about yourself.
  • Get regular exercise or take up some new hobby.
  • Schedule your work and have free time.
  • Drink and eat well.
  • Have a good night’s sleep!

Talk to a doctor about whether there are any medications that could help with your migraines.


Do not hesitate to take painkillers. Migraine is painful and does not suffer in silence.

Pain Killers

Some of the over-the-counter painkillers available in pharmacies are listed below.

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • NSAIDs: Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), Naproxen (Aleve),
  • Excedrin (a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine)

Other Prescribed Pain-Relieving Medication

You can take other prescribed medications as well.

  • Triptans (sumatriptan, rizatriptan)
  • Dihydroergotamine
  • Anti-nausea drugs (chlorpromazine, metoclopramide)

In order to prevent another attack, preventive medications will be helpful.

Preventive Medication

  • CGRP antagonists (erenumab, fremanezumab)
  • Beta-blockers (atenolol, propranolol, metoprolol)
  • Anticonvulsants (Topiramate, levetiracetam, pregabalin)
  • Antidepressants ( paroxetine, sertraline, amitriptyline, fluoxetine)
  • Calcium channel blockers (diltiazem, nimodipine, verapamil)
  • Botox injection

Physical and mental therapies


  • Yoga is a practice that has been around for thousands of years, and it’s not just about stretching your body and getting your heart rate up; it’s also an exercise in mindfulness.
  • You learn to quiet your mind and body so that you can connect with yourself in a way that is healing and calming.
  • You learn to listen to your body’s needs, which can help you avoid or deal with an attack in advance.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for migraines is a treatment that combines cognitive behavioral therapy with regular treatment to help you cope with your migraines.

The idea behind the treatment is that a person’s thoughts and behaviors can have a big impact on their stress levels and migraine symptoms.

By changing your patterns of thinking or behavior, though, you can lower your stress levels and manage your migraines better.

CBT is designed to help people identify their triggers, understand what they’re doing when they Submit migraine, and how they can stop themselves from getting one in the future.


Meditation is one of the most effective ways to deal with migraines.

It’s a simple, easy-to-do technique that can help you prevent migraines and reduce their severity. It also helps you feel better in general.

The best part? You don’t have to be spiritual or religious to meditate—just relax, breathe deeply, and let go of any tension you may be feeling as you focus on something in the moment. The process usually takes no more than five minutes (though sometimes it can take longer).

You can practice meditation for just about any situation: before sleep, during stressful times at work or school, or anytime you’re feeling anxious or stressed out.

If you have a partner who has a problem with migraines, try having them sit with you and meditate together so they can learn how to relax their minds and bodies as well!

Biofeedback Therapy

Biofeedback is a technique that uses sensors and feedback to help you achieve a state of relaxation that leads to a reduction in the symptoms of migraine.

Biofeedback has been shown to be effective in reducing the number of symptoms of migraine, including pain and nausea.

The way it works is that you wear sensors on your skin or in your mouth and nose, which monitor your brain activity. When you’re in an aroused state, the sensors will detect this and send information about your brain activity back to your computer.

Your computer will then let you know what’s happening with your body at the moment by displaying different colors on the screen.

Stress-Relieving Bonus Tips!

  • Take a warm bath.
  • Sit in the sun
  • Get an extra-large cup of coffee
  • Talk to someone you love.
  • Find time for fun social activities or a hobby.

When to See the Doctor

The first thing to do is make sure you’re doing all you can to manage your migraines before they get bad enough that you need immediate medical attention.

If there’s something in your life that’s stressing you out right now, try looking into some relaxation techniques before getting medical help.

The doctors are able to provide treatment for whatever is causing your headaches, as well as offer advice about how best to manage them in the future.

  • So if you are having a refractory migraine
  • If you are under stress
  • If the headache won’t go away with medications
  • Presence of new neurological symptoms like fever, one-sided weakness, or chest pain, it is time to see the doctor.

TeleHealthDoc articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Dr. Pallavi Sharma is one of Melbourne’s best, well respected cosmetic doctors and aims to provide longstanding anti-aging benefits for her clients. With over 11 years experience in Performing cosmetic procedures, Dr. Sharma has lectured medical professionals regarding cosmetic treatments and is heavily involved in providing up to date cosmetic treatments to her clients and friends.
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