Monday, April 11, 2016

Women's Emotions Do Not Cause Their Migraines

A very common misconception is that women's migraines are directly related to their stress and emotions and their inability to manage them. It was also thought that the likelihood of a women getting a migraine would increase when it was her "time of the month" only because that is when women tend to be more emotional. In reality, neurologists have discovered that this abnormal brain activity actually has nothing to do with emotions.

36 million people suffer from migraines in the United States and women are three to four times more likely to experience them. Women's migraines do correlate with their menstrual cycle, though not because of a change in emotions. Hormone fluctuation, along with environmental factors attribute to migraines. Those are not the only factors though. It has been found that variations of more than 40 genes are associated with migraines and there is a genetic component to at least 50% of migraine cases. This genetic predisposition to migraines, along with certain "triggers" (such as light sensitivity) activate networks in the brain that are interconnected and allow for a migraine to occur.

Suffering from migraines myself, this has been an interesting read and has broadened my understanding of why I experience migraines. I have always focused on finding specific triggers to my migraines. I have now learned that even though certain things may seem to increase my likelihood of a migraine, they are not the only piece of the puzzle, and that I am most likely genetically predisposed to experiencing migraines.


  1. I had no idea how common migraines were in females than males until this post! It's interesting that there are many other external factors associated with "triggering" a migraine. Seeing that hormonal fluctuations is a significant component, it's almost as if a migraine is our brain's version of an emotional breakdown we experience when something so little as dropping our last french fry on the ground or missing the latest episode of Gossip Girl on netflix.

  2. Kailee,
    This is such an interesting post! I always experience migraines, and they are debilitating, but many people tell me to keep track of them on a calendar and jot down if I'm feeling stressed to see if both correlate somehow. Now, I know it has nothing to do with emotions! My mom experiences migraines worse than I do, so I always wondered if it could be genetic. Now it makes sense. She also has been told by doctors that it could be caused by her menstrual cycle. I am glad we are finally getting to the bottom of this awful abnormal brain activity, because so many people suffer from migraines. I also find it very interesting that the triggers we feel before a migraine, also called auras, can activate networks in the brain and actually allow the migraine to happen. This information is very important, because although there are many migraine "relieving" pills, shots, and patches out there, they do not work for many people who experience migraines. Thus, this information could possibly advance migraine research and help develop more efficient treatments. Great post!