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The Dangers of Cephalalgiaphobia

Did you know that many individuals have an irrational yet extreme fear of having a headache?  The health issue is known as cephalalgiaphobia in medical circles – truly, a mouthful to say and a handful to treat for both the patient and the physician.

Cycle of Addiction 

Like all phobias, cephalalgiaphobia is a psychiatric condition characterized by an intense fear of suffering from headaches.  It is as debilitating as migraines for two reasons:

  • The affected individual will virtually cease any and all normal activities in everyday life just anticipating the first signs of a headache.
  • The fear of a headache attack encourages the affected individual to take analgesics even during pain-free periods that, in turn, results in the overuse of medication.

If you have cephalalgiaphobia, your daily life can be disrupted even by the slightest sign of an incoming headache so much so that you will stop whatever it is you are doing and anticipate it.  But instead of distracting yourself, your first act is to take painkillers to stop the headache in its tracks even when it was a just a false alarm.

It does not stop here, sadly.  You will take stronger doses of painkillers, say, from just one pill to two pills to subdue your perceived pain until you are taking well over the recommended limit for the drug – and so starts your medication overuse.

Keep in mind, too, that medication overuse has its dangers.  You can easily become addicted to painkillers, which is dangerous in itself but fatal when combined with other substances like alcohol.  You will also require more over-the-counter pills to counteract your perceived pain, which may result in a transition to prescription pills addiction – and the addiction cycle starts.

Cycle of Headaches

Addiction may be the worst consequence of medication overuse in cephalalgiaphobia but it is not the only one either.  You can also suffer from increasingly worse headaches!

Think of it:  As you take painkillers to subdue the first sign of a headache, you will require more pills to counteract the actual symptoms of an attack.  Your body will eventually become more accustomed to the painkillers and, thus, less likely to respond to the expected effects.  Your headaches will feel so much worse with each episode with the possibility that your episodic headaches become chronic headaches.

Link to Psychiatric Disorders

Studies have also shown a close link between headaches particularly migraines and psychiatric disorders including depression and anxiety disorders specifically obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks and phobias.  Said link comes in many forms such as:

  • Individuals with migraines have experienced feelings of hopelessness and helplessness especially during attacks, said feelings of which are characteristics of depression.
  • Psychiatric disorders have been known to change the course of migraines such as increasing the risk for transforming episodic migraine to chronic migraine as well as the risk for medication overuse.
  • Migraines can worsen psychiatric disease, which is evidenced by the higher rate of suicide attempts in individuals with migraines.

In a study published in The Journal of Headache and Pain, interesting results came to light.  Individuals with migraines who suffered from more frequent attacks had higher risks for cephalalgiaphobia while the phobia was more common in subjects with medication overuse.

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