What causes migraines?
Physiological explanation : A genetic and neurological condition
Some experts say that a migraine is a neurological condition wherein the usual nerve signals and processes of the brain are altered due to varying reasons. It is said that the cause is genetic. Migraines occur when there are changes in the interactions of the brainstem with the trigeminal nerve, which is a major pain pathway. It was observed that during migraines, the serotonin levels during a migraine would tend to drop. This triggers the trigeminal system to release neuropeptides, which in traveling to your brain, creates “pain”.
For women going through their menstrual cycle, migraines might be triggered by the hormonal changes in their body. It is observed that women who reported to have experienced a migraine during their menstrual period experienced a drop in their estrogen.
The physiological explanation of the cause of a migraine aids in understanding why prescription of proper medication is considered as a possible treatment. Certain types of drugs address the process of the brain that triggers the pain.
Psychological explanation : Stress and anxiety
Stress can trigger migraines. A stressful situation will both trigger and possibly prolong the pain that the person experiences. This prolonged and pronounced pain will then more greatly affect the life of a person adversely, which in turn creates more stress. In some cases, there is a psychosomatic response of the body to anticipated pain, which in turn stresses the person, inducing real pain.
This cycle of self-perpetuating stress and pain is something that can be avoided by proper assistance of a psychologist or psychiatrist. A person going through this can seek professional help for proper diagnosis. Some psychologists will use the cognitive-behaviorial therapy for patients with migraines. They will ask about situations and patterns that may have triggered the pain. After taking note of these instances, they will proceed to look for possible patterns in the thoughts stemming from the situations you were in when the pain started. The treatment then focuses on informing you on how your body responds in anticipation of the pain, so you can break the thought pattern and avoid “triggering yourself” to feel pain.
There are emerging practices on naturally curing migraines by practicing mindfulness and meditation. The practice of sitting down and doing focused breathing enables a person to relax and decrease stress and anxiety, which can then relieve physical pain. The approach has been successful in a number of cases wherein people reported decreased incidences of migraines.
Environmental explanation :
In some cases, external factors such as diet and lifestyle, can cause migraines. The food you eat can trigger your headache, such as diuretics. Change in weather can also trigger migraines. There have been reports on some patients who are sensitive to influences in the atmospheric pressure, such as sudden rain, and then experience migraines as a result of this weather change. Smoke, dust and other pollutants can also trigger migraines, and even certain odors. There are also reported cases of lights and sudden flashes of glaring lights inducing a migraine.
The first step in dealing with environmental factors that cause migraines is to know which one of the factors is actually triggering it. From that point, proper caution and preparedness can help those that suffer from migraines.