Migraines tied to childhood adversity


It is a fact that childhood adversity has multiple consequences as the child grows into adulthood. Childhood adversity includes sexual, physical and emotional abuse and neglect or other adverse experiences such as loss or poverty. All of these experiences can have serious repercussions on mental and emotional health such as prompting the abuse of drugs or alcohol or causing the development of mental health disorders. Even with the knowledge of how abuse damages children and teens as they continue to grow, it is estimated that around 14 percent of children in the U.S. still suffer some form of maltreatment. This information gives credence to the fact that studies are still continuing to observe exactly how abuse and other adverse experiences affect individuals as they grow so they can be provided better care and treatment.

One such study, published in the journal Neurology in December 2014, has found that along with the many other consequences that childhood abuse causes, it has now also been linked to tension headaches and migraines in adults. Professor Dawn Buse from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York researched the link between migraines and childhood abuse by studying more than 8,300 adults who suffered from migraines, which can be extremely painful and interfere with a person’s daily life, and more than 1,400 people with tension headaches, which is the most common headache among adults. The participants of the study were asked whether they had suffered sexual abuse or emotional neglect as children.

Buse and her colleagues found that 24.5 percent of adults who suffered emotional abuse also suffered from migraines as adults while 21.5 percent suffered from tension headaches. It was also revealed that those who had been emotionally abused before the age of 18 were one-third more likely to suffer migraines than tension headaches, which remained true even after accounting for different factors including gender, income, anxiety and depression. Additionally, those adults who reported having suffered from sexual abuse or emotional neglect as children were more likely to have migraines while adults who had experienced two forms of abuse as children were at least 50 percent more likely to suffer from migraines than adults who had only suffered one form of abuse.

Previous studies have also looked at the link between migraines and childhood abuse and found the same results. In 2012, a study from Ball State University called “Adverse Childhood Experiences Are Associated With Migraine and Vascular Biomarkers” found a strong correlation between childhood adversity and migraines, finding that 79 percent of the participants who suffered migraines had also suffered childhood adversity. This study also found that those who had stressful childhood lives were also more likely to have higher blood level markers for stroke and blood clotting.

While these studies do not yet point to a direct relationship between childhood abuse and migraines, they do emphasize the importance of a child’s environment. It also highlights the need to take childhood abuse into account when helping adults with migraines. Studies such as these can open doors to helping adults when they are seeking treatment for migraines while also attempting to understand how childhood abuse affects the mind of a growing child. Either way, it points out the well-known fact that children who have friendlier environments have a reduced risk of suffering from migraines in adulthood while also decreasing the chances of suffering from adverse neurological effects.

For those children who have endured childhood abuse or other adverse experiences it is important that they are provided with support so they will reduce their risk of developing substance abuse patterns or mental health disorders later on in adulthood. To learn more about treatment for teens you can visit www.whiteriveracademy.com for more information.

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