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Headaches and Depression: How are they Related?

It has been said that there is a solid link between depression and headaches. However, scientists are still quite unsure whether the pain of having chronic and severe headaches causes the depression or whether depression manifests itself through physical symptoms such as constant and very painful headaches. The link is evident in the number of people that are dealing with depression, but are exhibiting none of the classic signs, except perhaps the constant throbbing headache that they’ve been experiencing for quite some time now and have dismissed as nothing more than a simple migraine.

What is the link between depression and headaches?

The answer to this puzzling question lies in the chemicals in our brain, also known as neurotransmitters. These chemicals help deliver nerve impulses to the brain and have been known to have an effect on our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Studies have revealed that an imbalance of certain neurotransmitters in the body can cause changes in a person’s mood that may lead to depression. On the other hand, there are also studies that show the same neurotransmitter imbalance can be found in people who suffer from chronic migraine or tension headaches.

Further studies support the claim that there is a link between depression and headaches. These studies show that a large portion of the people who claim to have experienced episodes of depression also claim to have experienced constant headaches during this period, and in some cases, the severity of the pain actually prolonged the occurrence of the depressive episode. There is still more to be learned and discovered about the link between the two conditions, but what scientists and researchers are certain about is that any psychological disorder can complicate pain management and experiencing severe headaches may also worsen or prolong a person’s depressive episode.

Identifying Depression-related Headaches

Most people who are not trained to detect depression often look for the most obvious emotional and psychological signs of depression. Unfortunately, in most cases, people dealing with depression don’t exhibit the classic signs people are constantly looking out for. There are people out there who are suffering from episodes of depression and don’t even know about it. These people may not be showing obvious signs of depression, but they may be experiencing what is known as depression headaches. Most of the time, this headache feels like pressure is exerted through an invisible band around the head. The pain often comes at idle times in a person’s life such as during holidays or on weekends. Depression headaches also tend to feel worse early in the morning, as well as in the evening. A person with depression would also tend to describe the duration of their headaches as something they’ve been experiencing for years or for most of their lives. The best thing to do when one experiences these symptoms or something similar to this is to go see a doctor immediately so that the proper diagnosis can be made and treatment for pain relief and depression may commence immediately.

Treatment for Depression Headaches

Most of the time, depression and headaches are treated separately; however there are known anti-depressants that are effective, with pain management and relief as well. Drugs such as Zoloft (sertraline HCI), Prozac (fluoxetine), Sinequan (doxepin), Paxil (paroxetine), Elavil (amitriptyline), Pamelor and Aventyl (nortriptyline), Celexa (citalopram hydrobromide), and Cymbalta (duloxetine) are said to help with depression headache management, too. Aside from seeking psychological help and taking medications, depression headaches can also be managed by performing relaxing activities and exercises such as meditation, yoga, and getting a massage.

With all the research and knowledge doctors have today, treating depression isn’t as difficult as it used to be. The smartest way to find out which course of treatment is the best one to take is to consult a doctor or a headache specialist immediately. As long as a person is properly diagnosed and is following the prescribed treatment plan, the days of battling with depression and headaches are numbered.

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