Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Migraine: Epidemiology, Sex Differences, and Potential Mechanisms

Authors

  • B. Lee Peterlin DO,

    1. From the Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University, Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, MD, USA (B.L. Peterlin and S.S. Nijjar); Department of Neurology, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, USA (G.E. Tietjen).
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  • Satnam S. Nijjar MD,

    1. From the Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University, Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, MD, USA (B.L. Peterlin and S.S. Nijjar); Department of Neurology, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, USA (G.E. Tietjen).
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  • Gretchen E. Tietjen MD

    1. From the Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University, Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, MD, USA (B.L. Peterlin and S.S. Nijjar); Department of Neurology, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, USA (G.E. Tietjen).
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  • Conflict of Interest: None

B.L. Peterlin, Neurology, Johns Hopkins University, Bayview Medical Center, 4940 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD. Email: lpeterlin@jhmi.edu

Abstract

(Headache 2011;51:860-868)

Migraine is a common, often disabling disorder associated with a significant personal and societal burden. The presence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may increase this disability substantially. Migraine and PTSD are both up to 3 times more common in women than in men. The divergence in prevalence rates of migraine and PTSD that occurs between the sexes after puberty suggests that gonadal hormones play an important role. In addition, the preponderance of PTSD in women may be related to their higher rates of interpersonal trauma, the most common cause of PTSD. However, recent data suggest that although the odds of PTSD are increased in both women and men with episodic migraine, this association is stronger in men than women. In this paper, we examine the epidemiology of PTSD and migraine, with an emphasis on the known sex differences. We then discuss the neurobiological changes associated with PTSD, the current hypotheses for the mechanisms relating PTSD and migraine, and the treatment implications of these findings.

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