Posted in child abuse, migraines, PTSD

Childhood trauma may raise the risk of migraines

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Study found witnessing parental domestic violence produced most powerful association

Experiencing a traumatic event during childhood may raise the risk for migraines as an adult, new Canadian research suggests.

“We found the more types of violence the individual had been exposed to during their childhood, the greater the odds of migraine,” study author Sarah Brennenstuhl, from the University of Toronto, said in a university news release.

“For those who reported all three types of adversities — [witnessing] parental domestic violence, childhood physical and sexual abuse — the odds of migraine were a little over three times higher for men and just under three times higher for women,” Brennenstuhl said.

The findings were reported online recently in the journal Headache. To reach their conclusions, researchers looked at data from a mental health survey involving nearly 23,000 men and women over the age of 18.

“The most surprising finding was the link between exposure to parental domestic violence and migraines,” study co-author Esme Fuller-Thomson, a professor and chair at University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, said in the news release.

Girls who had witnessed parental domestic violence grew up to be women with a 64 percent greater risk for migraines, compared with those with no such history. For men, the bump in risk amounted to 52 percent, the investigators found.

And the team noted this association held up even after taking into account a wide range of influential factors, such as age, race, a history of depression or anxiety, and any history of childhood physical and/or sexual abuse.

However, the study did not prove a cause-and-effect link between childhood trauma and migraine risk.

Source from

More information: Visit the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for more on migraines.

SOURCE: University of Toronto, news release, June 24, 2015


Writer, poet, blogger, advocate of mental illness stigma

4 thoughts on “Childhood trauma may raise the risk of migraines

    1. Thanks for the link. I am in therapy once again attempting to figure out if my chronic migraines are somehow tied to the narcissistic abuse I endured during my childhood inflicted by my mother. 🙂


  1. HI! Just found you! Please also check out this blog as she is starting a Monday conversation on migraines and would very probably like your input:
    I will also share you site with her. I am a school nurse in a migraine mentoring program where I am learning about migraines in children (also a migraineur myself, adult-onset with a genetic component) but I find this article fascinating. Thank you very much for sharing it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for letting me know about this. Migraine in children, that must be hard for them (and parents) to struggle with school and life with intense pain. I was in my teens when I started, I think, yet may have started off with headaches in childhood which could have been caused by emotional abuse. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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