Millions of people have post-traumatic stress disorder and migraines, and severe headaches. You may even suffer from them both, but treatment often depends on knowledge and acting before your life is disrupted.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health illness activated by a frightening event, by either witnessing or experiencing it. Symptoms can include nightmares, flashbacks, and severe anxiety, plus overpowering thoughts about what happened.
After a trauma, most people have short-term problems adjusting, but with time and proper care, they usually experience positive outcomes. But worsening, years’ long symptoms interfering with daily life could be signs of PTSD.
Know the Symptoms
Everyone reacts to trauma differently. Some people may recover quickly, others not so fast. Symptoms typically present themselves within three months of what happened, but sometimes it can be years before they surface. PTSD symptoms may include:
- Racing heart rate
- Staying away from anyone or anything which is a reminder of the trauma
- Avoiding feelings and thoughts related to what happened
- Being easily startled
- Problems sleeping
- Anger issues
- Memory problems
- Bad thoughts about yourself, others, and the world around you
- Guilt and self-blame
- Lack of interest in something you used to enjoy doing
Migraine symptoms are grouped into four categories (prodrome, aura, headache, and postdrome), often starting 24 hours before the migraine kicks in. Symptoms can include:
- Food cravings
- Mysterious mood changes
- Uncontrollable yawning
- Fluid retention
- Heavy urination
- Visual interruptions
- Muscle weakness
- Perception of being touched
- Headaches which suddenly get worse
- Physical exhaustion, weakness, and confusion
Migraines & PTSD
Evidence has been collected over the years, indicating that migraines and post-traumatic stress disorder are related and may have a genetic basis. Frontiers in Neuroscience examined this idea more closely, which investigated the genetic foundation for migraine and post-traumatic stress disorder by observing identical twins. Researchers revealed that migraines and PTSD share mutual genes and pathways. They might indicate they share common risk factors, possibly explaining why the two conditions can simultaneously coexist in the same patient.
Divya Mehta, Ph.D. of the Queensland University of Technology and senior author on the study, had this to say: “Our results suggest that common genes and signaling pathways are involved in PTSD and migraine, and this might explain why PTSD and migraine can co-occur frequently. This might further imply that common environmental risk factors for both PTSD and migraine might be acting on these genes.”
The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) also explored the notion of there being a relationship between migraines and posttraumatic stress disorder because of hormones. The NIH said: “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.”
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a powerful medicine that was initially created as an anesthetic. After field trials during fighting in Vietnam, where it was used with great success in treating wounded U.S. combat troops, the medicine became the de-facto standard for pre-operative anesthesia worldwide. During the 1960s and early 1970s, researchers and others discovered it had other medicinal value, particularly in treating symptoms of mental illness, chronic pain, and other conditions which didn’t respond favorably to conventional treatment.
Diagnosis & Treatment
To make a migraine diagnosis, your health care provider will document your personal and family medical history, ask for details about your symptoms, and complete a physical and neurological examination. Because an underlying condition could cause symptoms, tests like magnetic resonance imaging, blood work, and others may be required.
PTSD is typically diagnosed with a physical and psychological examination, sometimes performed separately by a medical doctor and a mental health specialist who will compare your symptoms to criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Treatment for both often involves psychotherapy, sleeping in a darkened room, lifestyle changes, and ketamine therapy.
If you have PTSD, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced trauma. And if you’ve lived through a traumatic event, you may be a prime candidate for migraines at some point in your life. The good news is that symptoms of both conditions can be managed, often with therapy, medicine, lifestyle changes, or ketamine. The most crucial step is the first one, so make sure to take action.