Migraines are very common headaches; a term we hear a lot but have you ever wondered where those intense headaches come from? Why you get them? Why you feel like only one part of your head is throbbing?

Well, migraines in simple terms are headaches that most commonly occur on one side of the head, they make you feel lightheaded and can increase your sensitivity to light and sounds around you. Migraines however can be a different experience to different people, there is no one general rule here. There are also different types of migraines and they can be related to different causes. Let’s explore.

What are the different types of migraines?

In general, there are 2 main types of migraines. What are they?

Migraines with aura – Complicated Migraines

Those first types of migraines are the ones that give you some warning signals, these migraines do not come out of the blue, you will feel symptoms before fully experience that intense headache about to come. The symptoms can come before, stay during and even persist for a little bit of time after the headache subsides. Good news is, those symptoms can be healed, with the right care, you can stop them.

Symptoms here include:

Migraines without aura – Common Migraines

Those migraines are more common between people and they happen without the pre-warning signs that you get when experiencing the first type. The experience is still the same with the throbbing headache namely on one side of the head but it comes more suddenly or unexpectedly. You don’t see it coming with symptoms before it occurs.


Women are three times more likely to get migraines than men!

There are also different types of migraines other than the main two that are worth exploring, here are some of them:

Menstrual Migraines

As the name implies, they affect women who are on their periods or about to get their periods, they are usually due to the changes in hormones and the most common menstrual hormones are the migraines without aura, one can expect them if she is getting her period but they do not come with any warning signs.

Abdominal Migraines

Those are more common in children and are characterized by abdominal pain, they are accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea and/or vomiting. Children who commonly experience this type of migraine are likely to develop headaches when they grow up.

Hemiplegic Migraines

Those are very rare types of migraines, they last more than the common migraines and up to several days, they can cause temporary paralysis and it happens with people who have a genetic predisposition for it, this means it is hereditary (also called familial hemiplegic migraines).

What are the main triggers for migraines?

When we look at our body and what we experience, we should always look back at the causes and reasons, at the end of the day, there is no reaction without an action.

The 10 main triggers for migraines are as follows:

This doesn’t mean that those are the only triggers that cause migraines, however they are the most common. Dietary triggers also have an impact.

Can my diet cause migraines?

The food we eat can be a trigger for our headaches, other food can trigger a migraine upon withdrawal. Our diet can have a great effect on how we feel whether through the style or the food we consume.

Migraine Diets

Research has looked into the food we eat and the different styles of eating in a way to minimize the occurrence of migraines. Different types of diets followed have been found to have benefits that can reduce migraines in patients, those diets include:

While these titles might seem intriguing, migraines are tricky and diets are also tricky as they function on a case-by-case basis. This means that something that works for someone might not work for another, this is why it’s very important to consult a health professional when you want to make a change in your lifestyle and the way you eat.

What specific foods can trigger migraines?

Different dietary styles can affect the occurrence or decrease of migraines however; some specific food can contribute into triggering migraines.

These foods include:

Chocolate and Migraine? They’re related?

As previously mentioned, specific types of food can trigger the occurrence of migraines and unfortunately chocolate is one of them. Chocolate can also sometimes be beneficial for migraines.

That being said, this does not mean that every time you eat chocolate you will likely have a migraine, so how does this relationship work? Around 2% to 22% of migraines are caused by chocolate; this happens since chocolate induces the concentration of the hormone serotonin which is found to be in high concentrations during migraines as well, this happens in theory.

Looking at the positive relationship, another theoretical perspective explains how chocolate can help with migraines, chocolate is a good source for magnesium, and magnesium has been found to help with decreasing pain and headaches.

Since those are theoretical perspectives, this means that research is still ongoing on chocolate and migraines to confirm the findings and explain the relationship better.

The Psychology of Migraines

Can your personality traits cause your migraines?

Previous research has looked into whether different personalities can make people more prone to migraines or not and indeed, some personalities are more likely to react differently.

Below is a list that encompasses some of the personality traits of a person that is prone to react differently to stressors and likely to develop a migraine:

People can work on their different traits that cause them to react more excessively to different factors or stressors eventually leading to migraines; one can learn to be more flexible and accept change more easily. Working on one’s self can be a journey but you can always get better if you are willing to change and with the right goals and support and of course with the help of mental health professionals. There are tactics and ways that can be developed and help with such journeys.

This also goes to the perfectionist type of personality as there are a lot of factors we do not usually account for that can make our work go differently than originally planned or can alter the way we see things or the time we are expecting ourselves to complete certain tasks. And so, with the right adjustment, help and flexibility introduced to one, change is possible.

Why does stress cause you headaches?

Stress has been found to be the reason of 70% of migraines in individuals! This number is mind blowing! But, it helps us understand the relation between stress and migraines as it is very important.

Different types of stressors that induce migraines include:

Stressors contribute largely to the occurrence of migraines, they alter our cognitive and emotional states and consequently our physical health causing us those immense headaches. As the brain functions, stress loads alter its functioning in a behavioral and systematic way which in turn leads to migraines, this is why it is crucial to learn ways in which we can deal with stress in a healthy way and help ourselves from migraines.

Are your coping mechanisms related to your migraines?

What are coping mechanisms?

Coping mechanisms are ways and adjustments a person develops to deal with stress. They can be conscious or unconscious and help decrease stress and anxiety. There are various different types and ways and they are generally divided between adaptive and maladaptive.

The relationship between coping mechanisms and migraines:

When looking into this relationship, studies have found some coping mechanisms that are more maladaptive and can be a reason to the development of migraines, these include:

These results came from a study of a group of people who were highly prone to migraines and when assessing their personality traits, they found them to be:

These people are not more exposed to external factors that lead to stress but the way they deal with those factors and the way they cope with stress is what caused them to have migraines more. This is why it is important to learn the adaptive ways to cope with stress and try to reduce old practices that are maladaptive and can cause serious health problems.


If you find yourself responding emotionally to stressors or avoiding the situation fully, try to reconsider emotional reception and process the stimuli around you that are causing you the stress. This can help you understand how you’re feeling and respond differently to the stress making headaches less probable!

Treatment of Migraines

Psychologically, what do we look into?

External stress factors can be different for people depending on their perception and personalities, this is why, when looking into how to treat migraines resulting from stress, the main 3 factors are:


To help with migraines, experts have looked into three main interventions:

Looking into the different techniques from all three types of interventions, none have proved to be more superior over the other, however, it was found that relaxation training was easier to implement than CBT since it can contain more complex techniques.

Some of the most common techniques found to help include but are not limited to:


Self-reporting headaches and the frequency (how much they occur) helped patients understand more as they were provided with explanation on their triggers and causes of their migraines.

Autogenic training

This includes a range of statements to help with relaxation and decreasing stress and its effects. The focus is on different aspects that include heaviness, warmth, breathing, abdominal practice, heart practice and head practice. It is very effective in relaxation and is usually done daily through different statements related to the factors mentioned above. An example is: “Your body feels heavy and relaxed”. This in addition to statements that the patient can imagine regarding a different setting that can also induce calmness such as sitting in front of a fire place.

Muscle relaxation

This is usually done accompanied with autogenic training, and statements here instruct the patients to focus on their breathing and in different areas of their bodies allowing them to fully relax and be aware of their breathing. It can include diaphragm breathing and abdominal practices and inhalation and exhalation through the mouth.

Stress coping training

This type of training focuses on teaching the patients cognitive strategies to help with their stress reactivity and their perception of different triggers that they are exposed to. They learn how to manage stress through their thought process; this can involve reformulating their thoughts, averting their attention elsewhere and overall turning around negative thoughts into positive ones. They also learn ways to prepare for stressful situations and how to anticipate them even. This is usually used with biofeedback.


This focuses mostly on the physiology of stressful situations that lead to headaches and how to deal with them. It works on auditory and visual displays. The patients are usually instructed to sit in silence for an allocated period of time before feedback begins. It teaches participants how to treat their physiological responses to stress and is likely to be accompanies with autogenic phrases. There also are findings on thermal interventions in biofeedback and how physical warmth can help reduce migraines.

Medical treatment

Migraines can also be efficiently solved and prevented through medical intervention, that is medication such as pills. Medical professionals prescribe mainly pain killers to help and some over-the-counter medication also proves helpful such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Other medications include triptans that can help with the brain changes that cause migraines and anti-emetics that can help nausea.


While migraines can be very disruptive to our health and inconvenient when we are trying to live our daily lives, they can be prevented and helped very effectively. If you are suffering from those painful migraines, you can always review back your dietary choices and you can always seek professional help. Being aware of your surroundings and stressors will also prove helpful.

Stay healthy,

Wellbene, your wellness companion

Written By :

December 8, 2022