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Keywords:

  • migraine stressor;
  • migraine with aura;
  • tension headache;
  • migraine without aura

There are several ways in which stress may interact with migraine in those predisposed to migraine attacks. These interactions may result from biochemical changes related to the physiological stress response, as, for example, the release of corticotrophin releasing hormone, or from changes induced by the psychological response to stressors. Stress is the factor listed most often by migraine sufferers as a trigger for their attacks, but in addition there is evidence that stress can help initiate migraine in those predisposed to the disorder, and may also contribute to migraine chronification. Migraine attacks themselves can act as a stressor, thereby potentially leading to a vicious circle of increasing migraine frequency. Since the important factor in the stress–migraine interaction is likely the individual's responses to stressors, rather than the stressors themselves, the acquisition of effective stress management skills has the potential to reduce the impact of stressors on those with migraine.