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Somatic Disorders of Migraine Headache

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Everybody knows that clear mind and healthy head are key factors of successful studying and work. Nevertheless, the modern world leaves us a little opportunity to stay healthy, especially mentally. Many diseases have no physical background, but are provoked by mental state. They are called somatic disorders, when person think that illness has a physical cause, but the true reason is mental stress (Kenny, 2011). The most common disease is a migraine headache.

Migraine headache can be a disease itself (primary headache) and a part of other systematic illnesses, which can be life-threatening (secondary headache). People who suffer from migraine headaches usually describe it as intensive and pulsating pain that occupies one area of a head. According to the International Headache Society, the frequencies of the attack and strength can help to diagnose the migraines. Additional symptoms may be nausea or vomiting and increased sensitivity to light and noises. The hormone changes during periods make migraine up to three times more common among women. There are no particular reasons for this disease, so scientists and doctors discuss the combination of several factors that provoke it.

The exact reasons for migraine are unknown, but people can inherit some of the triggers that provoke migraine and can surround a patient. They are fatigue, bright lights, weather changes, changes in the daily schedule, emotional stress, sensitivity to chemicals, etc. Scientists believed that blood vessels on the brains’ surface were the main reason of migraine, but nowadays there exists a thought that it can be caused by the so called “pain center”. It usually leads to the problems with vessels and neurotransmitters. Migraine commonly appears in combination with various diseases.

The most common reason for migraine headaches is depression. According to Gibson (2012), depression is a set of mood problems that are characterized as:

… feelings of sadness or emptiness; reduced interest in activities that used to be enjoyed; sleep disturbances (either not being able to sleep well or sleeping too much); loss of energy or a significant reduction in energy level; difficulty concentrating, holding a conversation, paying attention, or making decisions that used to be made fairly easily; suicidal thoughts or intentions.

Migraines and depression have a bidirectional relationship. Studies have shown that 40% of people with depression have migraines, and 80% of people with migraines can develop depression. According to this relationship, the treatment targets headache, depression, or both of them. Tricyclic drugs are very useful for the treatment. In addition, patients need to attend behavioral therapy and undergo the biofeedback treatment. The last but not the least, the preventative treatment for both depression and headaches is necessary for people who suffer from depression-provoked migraines. It helps adhere to a proper schedule of nutrition. 

Usually, migraine headaches occur during somatic disorders or are caused by Briquet’s syndrome. Its main symptoms are pain, neurologic problems, gastrointestinal and sexual complaints. Pain disorder is the most common among them. It is a mental disease that occurs as pain in different parts of the body, but has no link to the general medical condition. It is mental, because psychological issues affect hugely the attacks, severity, and maintenance of the illness. The usual symptoms of pain disorders are depression, anxiety, increased pain, disability, negative, and distorted cognition (feeling helpless about pain). Pathologies of internal organs and skeletal damage can cause pain syndrome, which develops migraines. Depending on the type of migraine, namely chronic or acute, there are different types of treatment, like medication treatment, visiting psychotherapy sessions, sleep-dysfunction treatment, etc. Doctor must encourage patients to live an active life and avoid actions that cause pain. The remission for chronic patients has sense only if a patient is going to continue working on. Otherwise, if the pain behavior is reinforced, e.g. financial compensation for disability, the remission is less possible.

Somatization disorder can also provoke migraines. The symptoms of somatization, which are the same as those of pain disorder, have no links to the physical condition. Patients complain of strange tastes, tremors, flowing pain, etc. They usually undergo many tests, which give negative results, before doctors identify the psychological reasons for the symptoms. Many symptoms may represent the genuine disease, while others have no background. The causes for somatization disorders may vary, and the defense against psychological stress is one of them. Instead of experiencing anxiety or depression, an organism produces physical symptoms. In addition, people can become very sensitive to those physical factors, which will be ignored by most of the people. Sometimes this sensitivity increases to the vast proportions, when a person thinks of a minor pain as a sign of much more serious disease, e.g. minor headache signals of a brain tumor. To change the negative flow of thoughts, doctors are prescribing to visit behavioral therapy. It usually helps to avoid dysfunctional thinking about the probable problems. In addition, medications can provide a temporary relief. Nevertheless, the symptoms can become evident for the chronic patients if left untreated (Encyclopedia of mental disorders, n.d.).

As it was stated above, migraine can be a part of diseases such as head traumas, traumas of neck and spine, and cordial diseases. Nevertheless, it often appears as a respond to stress or surroundings. Therefore, medication and behavioral treatment are the most useful in case of chronic migraines.

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