A new study on migraine sufferers has uncovered an important link: people who experienced extreme hardships in their childhood are more likely to suffer from migraine headaches as an adult.
The study, coming from the University of Toronto’s Factor-Intwentash Faculty of Social Work and the Department of Family and Community Medicine, looked at more than 20,000 responses from the Canadian Community Health Survey of Mental Health, finding that the odds of experiencing migraine as an adult were greater for those who were exposed to domestic violence between parents or who endured physical or sexual abuse as children.
Researchers also found that the more kinds of violence seen in childhood, the greater the odds of migraine symptoms in adulthood. What’s more, the likelihood of suffering from migraines is about three times higher (a little over for men and a little under for women) for those who experience all three types of adversity—domestic violence, physical abuse, and sexual abuse.
“The most surprising finding was the link between exposure to parental domestic violence and migraines,” said co-author Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson in the press release. “Even after accounting for variables including age, race, socioeconomic status, history of depression and anxiety, and childhood physical and sexual abuse, men and women who had witnessed parental domestic violence had 52% and 64% higher odds of migraine, respectively, compared to those without such a history.”
The authors also noted that they are not sure if the instances of trauma directly cause headaches later in life, but that their findings show a need for more research on the long-term health of individuals exposed to domestic violence.
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