So You Still Think Emotions “Cause” Migraine?

After all the research, after all the scans and genetic testing and developing treatments, why is it that some people still think that emotions, especially *gasp* female emotions, somehow cause migraine attacks?

I would like to say that this is just a misconception that has persisted among the “uneducated”. After all, even before the rise of modern neurology, it should have been obvious that many, many very “emotional” people had no migraine attacks whatsoever. A particularly thoughtful person might have noted that a migraine attack might actually stir up an emotion or two in a normal person.

Oh, incredible pain and nausea is coming my way in a few minutes? The room is spinning? The kitchen lights feel like lasers drilling into my skull? Fascinating. Next?

No, surely it would be normal for most people to become mildly – or majorly – sad or upset at such a prospect.

But even being kind to people living 200 years ago who maybe have never given it much thought, the truth is that some doctors, even in modern times, have made the claim that Emily or Hannah or Kayla just needs to control her emotions and everything will go away.

This in spite of the fact that we can now “see” much of what happens during an attack in the body, that neurological changes have been measured, and even genetic bases for migraine have been documented.

NY Times: Women's Emotions and MigraineDo emotions play any part in migraine at all? Of course they do. But that doesn’t mean that they cause attacks, or that “controlling” them will make the pain go away (the insinuation being, of course, that the patient is 100% to blame for every attack, and that each attach is the patient’s choice!).

That was a inordinately long introduction to an article posted in the New York Times last month, titled simply “Women’s Emotions Do Not Cause Their Migraines“. Take the time to check it out.

Also linked to in the article is a website I should highlight – 100 Migraines. The site is the work of university professor and artist Lorie Novak, who made the decision to photograph herself every time she had a migraine attack. The results will look familiar to many of us, but that makes them no less disturbing.

But sometimes we need to be a little disturbed to be reminded just how serious migraine really is.

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