Headaches and Migraine
Probably the most common of headaches, Tension Headaches are caused by the involuntary sustained contraction of the muscles surrounding the skull and face. Prolonged mental concentration, stress, and a variety of individual factors may bring on the pain.
Common pain patterns are those involving the back of the head and upper neck, the forehead, and around the eyes. The pain is a steady ache, lasting hours to days. Other than fatigue and mild depression, other symptoms are usually absent. It is not uncommon to have a tension headache not during periods of stress, but rather after the stress is relieved. (1)
Although the cause of migraine headaches is still being investigated, the Migraine Trust considers that "Migraine is an inherited tendency to have headaches with sensory disturbance. It’s an instability in the way the brain deals with incoming sensory information, and that instability can become influenced by physiological changes like sleep, exercise and hunger." (2)
Precipitating factors include stress, sleep recovery after a period of deprivation, fasting, alcohol in general and red wine in particular, menstruation, and caffeine excess or withdrawal.
More women than men suffer with migraines (1)
There are different types of migraine but not everyone will experience the typical symptoms. There are many types of migraine which have been classified by The International Classification of Headache Disorders (3). The most common types are:
Migraine without Aura - About 70-90% of people with migraine will experience this type of migraine which last for between 4-72 hours if left untreated. Common symptoms include:
- Headache on one side of the head with a throbbing pain which worsens on exercise.
Migraine with Aura – People with this type of migraine will experience some of the above symptoms plus additional neurological disturbances often of a visual nature such as coloured spots, zig zag lines or flashing lights.
Migraine is most commonly treated by drugs either prescribed by a medical professional or bought over the counter.
These may vary from Analgesics (Painkillers) such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol to specific anti-migraine drugs – Triptans - which relieve pain by narrowing the blood vessels in the head and blocking the transmission of pain.
Beta – blockers, Tricyclic Antidepressants and other medication may also be prescribed to help prevent migraines occurring.
Supplements and Herbal Remedies such as Magnesium, Feverfew and Coenzyme Q10 have shown to be helpful for some migraine sufferers but it is important to discuss any complementary treatment with your G.P. as there may be negative interactions with your medication.
N.B. Before consulting any complementary health practitioner, about headaches or migraine, it is highly advisable to see you G.P. or other medical practitioner for a correct diagnosis of your symptoms.
Hypnotherapy for Headaches and Migraine
Hypnotherapy has been shown to be a well established and effective treatment for migraine and headaches which also reduces the ongoing expense associated with medication treatments (4). Dr. Mike Matthews, GP and a member of the British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis and the British Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, showed in his research that hypnotherapy was an effective intervention in a group of migraine sufferers (5).
Both stress and sleep deprivation have been implicated in the development of headaches and migraine and this is an area in which hypnotherapy can help you make changes.
If you’d like to make lifestyle changes to reduce stress or improve your sleep, which in turn may lessen the likelihood, frequency or severity of your headache or migraine then hypnotherapy could help you achieve these goals. Hypnosis can also help individuals learn to control and turn down the pain and discomfort of headaches and migraine. You will also be able to learn simple self hypnosis techniques to use on a regular basis to either manage pain or improve your life situation in relation to stress.
Don’t let the misery of headaches or migraine control your life. Call me to book a session so that you will be able to restore balance, reverse pessimistic thoughts about your situation and reduce the experience of pain.
1. MacGregor A (2005) Understanding Migraine and Other Headaches Family Doctor Publications Ltd
4. Hammond, D. Corydon Review of the efficacy of clinical hypnosis with headaches and migraines Intl. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 55.2 (2007): 207-219.
5. Matthews, Mike, and Steve Flatt. "The efficacy of hypnotherapy in the treatment of migraine." Nursing Standard 14.7 (1999): 33-36.