Research has shown that sexual, physical, and especially emotional abuse create a predisposition to headache. Dr. Elliott A. Schulman, MD reports in the November/December 2011 issue of HEADACHE that some adults with migraine have experienced abuse as children, and that childhood maltreatment is associated with an earlier onset of migraine.
Emotional abuse includes threats, harassment, neglect and bullying. Physical abuse can be defined as slapping, hitting, striking, pinching or kicking. Sexual abuse is any nonconsensual sexual activity. For children and adolescents, sexual abuse also includes any sexual activity with an older individual, whether consensual or not.
Significant stress occurring in childhood can sometimes lead to an exaggerated response to stress in adulthood, and for some stress is the most important trigger for migraine. Migraine can also be aggravated by the anxiety and depression that often follows abuse.
Talking to a counselor or calling an abuse hotline can help in coping with the prior abuse. Attempting to “forget” about the past or deny that it ever happened will not make the feelings go away. From the perspective of treating your headache, health care providers can provide suggestions for stress management therapies along with medication.
The following is a sampling of patient resources….

Futures without Violence:
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect

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