Is There A Link Between Panic Attacks And Migraines?

Panic attacks and migraines — two conditions that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. Anxiety and headaches tend to go hand-in-hand, so what's the connection between a panic attack and a migraine? Are you likely to get a migraine from a panic attack or vice versa?

Panic attacks can happen just once or twice in a lifetime, or they can be part of a panic disorder and occur more frequently (via Mayo Clinic). In a panic attack, you might experience an intense sense of impending danger, rapid heart rate, trembling, shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness, or sweating. They can come on suddenly and feel scary, even though they aren't life-threatening.

A migraine is a particular type of headache that's actually a neurological condition, according to Healthline. It's usually characterized by a debilitating headache but can also include symptoms of nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, numbness or tingling, and difficulty speaking. It can occur with or without aura, which can disturb vision and affect movement and sensation. Migraines can last for an extended period of time if they're not treated or don't respond to treatment.

How panic attacks and migraines are connected

Research shows that panic attacks and migraines are linked, so if you have one, you might be more likely to experience the other, according to Verywell Mind. A 2011 study published in The Journal of Headache and Pain found that those who are diagnosed with anxiety disorders are more likely to experience headaches than those who aren't diagnosed with anxiety disorders. If you experience a panic attack, you're more likely to experience a headache right afterward, and this can tend to be more severe than a regular tension headache.

Another 2011 study from The Journal of Headache and Pain found that certain risk factors can make you more prone to experience headaches and panic disorder (via Verywell Mind). For example, incidences of headache and anxiety are higher among females and those who are also diagnosed with agoraphobia and depression.

Proper treatment of both panic disorder and migraines is important. Some medications work well for treating both conditions at the same time, while some anxiety medications can actually contribute to headaches. Talk to your doctor to develop a treatment plan that works for you.