Childhood Traumas Linked To Headache Disorders In Adulthood, Study Shows

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A recent study conducted by Harvard University suggests that individuals who have experienced traumatic events during their childhood may be more prone to experiencing painful headaches in adulthood. It is important to note that the research does not establish a direct causal link between childhood trauma and adult headaches, but it does highlight an association between the two.

Traumatic events during childhood impact quality of life in adulthood

Study author Catherine Kreatsoulas stated that traumatic events experienced during childhood can significantly impact an individual’s health later in life. The study found that childhood traumatic events are significant risk factors for various headache disorders such as migraine, cluster headaches, tension headaches, and severe or chronic headaches

An analysis of 28 previous studies conducted in 19 countries, with a total of 154,739 participants, found that 31% of people reported at least one traumatic childhood event and 16% were diagnosed with primary headaches. Of those who reported traumatic events, 26% were had primary headache disorders, compared to only 12% who had no childhood trauma. These results suggest a significant association between childhood trauma and primary headache disorders in adulthood.

Childhood traumas linked to 48% likelihood of headache disorders

According to the study, individuals who experienced one or more traumatic childhood events were 48% more likely to have a headache disorder compared to those who didn’t. The research also revealed that the likelihood of having headaches increased alongside an increase in number of traumatic events. Patients who had experienced childhood trauma were 24% more likely to have a headache disorder than those who had not. Furthermore, individuals who had encountered four or more traumatic events were more than twice as likely to have a headache disorder.

The traumatic events evaluated were categorized into threat and deprivation traumas. Threat traumas included sexual abuse, physical abuse, serious family conflicts, emotional abuse and witnessing violent threats while derivation traumas included neglect, separation or divorce, parental death, economic adversities, chronic disability and substance or alcohol abuse. Threat traumas were found to be linked to a 46% increase in headaches, while deprivation traumas showed a 35% increase in headache prevalence, according to the study.

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