Having generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is three times more common in adults who have migraines compared to those without migraines.
GAD is characterized by intense, persistent worry that interferes with an individual’s physical, social, and cognitive functioning.
The authors of a study exploring the connection between GAD and migraines were not surprised that chronic pain is a primary link between the two health issues. “The unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of migraine pain can be extremely anxiety producing as it often interferes with family and work responsibilities with little or no warning,” said Janany Jayanthikumar, University of Toronto (UT).
The researchers were surprised that men with migraine were nearly twice as likely to have GAD than women with migraine, since more women than men in the general population have anxiety issues. According to study author Senyo Agbeyaka, this may be owed to mens’ reluctance to get help for their migraines, leading to more painful, uncontrollable symptoms that may trigger anxiety.
Not having someone to confide in about migraines also proved a factor in the onset of anxiety. Those lacking a confidant were five times more likely to develop GAD than those with adequate social support. This finding highlights the protective mental health role support networks play for those with chronic pain.
“It is important for health professionals to be monitoring for the presence of mental health problems, including anxiety disorders, in their patients with migraine,” said lead author and UT professor, Esme Fuller-Thomson. “Of particular concern are men with migraines, those who experience chronic and debilitating pain, those who are struggling to cope with their daily responsibilities, and those who are socially isolated.”
Source: Science Daily
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