New Study Says Headaches May Be Linked to Childhood Trauma

Adults who have gone through stressful childhood experiences, including abuse, neglect, or dysfunction in the home, may be more prone to headaches.

The meta-analysis, which was published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, included 154,739 people across 19 different nations from 28 researches.

Of all the participants, 24,956 people, or 16%, were diagnosed with main headaches, while 48,625 people, or 31%, reported having had at least one traumatic childhood incident.

Compared to 12% of individuals who had no traumatic childhood experiences, 26% of participants who experienced at least one traumatic childhood event were diagnosed with a main headache problem.

"Traumatic events in childhood can have serious health implications later in life," said Catherine Kreatsoulas, the study author.

According to Kreastsoulas, the meta-analysis demonstrates that traumatic experiences throughout childhood are significant risk factors for chronic headache disorders, such as migraines, tension headaches, cluster headaches, and severe or persistent headaches.

Researchers discovered that the likelihood of headache problems was 48% higher in those who had gone through one or more traumatic childhood experiences compared to those who had not.

Additionally, they discovered that the likelihood of experiencing headaches rose in tandem with the quantity of stressful childhood experiences.

Those who had experienced one type of traumatic event had a 24% increased risk of developing a headache disorder compared to those who had not experienced childhood trauma, and those who had experienced four or more types of traumatic events were more than twice as likely to develop a headache disorder.

Researchers also examined the relationship between different kinds of traumatic childhood experiences. Events that fell under the category of threat traumas included severe family disputes, witnessing and/or threatening violence, and physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

A household member who was jailed, financial hardships, divorce or separation, parental death, and living in a home where there was alcohol or drug addiction, mental illness, or a chronic illness were all considered deprivation traumas.

The team discovered that there was a 46% increase in headaches associated with threat traumas and a 35% increase in headaches associated with deprivation traumas. One of the most common traumas was physical and sexual abuse, which was associated with a 60% higher chance of headaches; among deprivation traumas, childhood neglect was associated with an almost three-fold higher risk of headache problems.

She says that this meta-analysis shows how significant and independent risk factors for adult headache disorders are childhood traumatic experiences classified as either threat or deprivation traumas.

One of the most common incapacitating illnesses in the world may be prevented and treated more effectively if the precise kinds of childhood events are recognized. To address these underlying traumatic childhood experiences, a thorough public health plan and therapeutic intervention measures are required.

Kreatsoulas concludes: "It is important to note that the true estimate of the association is likely higher due to the sensitive nature of reporting childhood traumatic events."


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