When someone is in pain emotionally it tends to manifest into physical pain such as headaches, sore muscles, lethargy, brittle bones, lack of appetite, skin rashes, etc. One of the most common physical side effects of mental illness are headaches and/or migraines. Migraines are actually a warning sign of mental health problems and/or mental illness according to a 2009 study(1). People who experience migraines are also more likely to develop Depression with 40% developing the disorder due to the loss of certain neurotransmitters (2). Depression headaches tend to develop around the temples, behind an eye or behind an ear but are not limited to these specific reigons. Today I won’t be focussing on the science of headaches and migraines but coping strategies and treatments for those who find themselves wrestling with this battle every day. I encourage you to look more into the science behind depression headaches and migraines with the links below.
I personally suffer from what I call “rainbow headaches” which is a pain stemming from one temple to the other. My headaches are constant, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t trying to suppress a headache during my daily routine. I’ve been having these pains for several years and therefore have created my own personal coping list for when a migraine hits. Unfortunately, some of my ‘tricks’ are unhealthy such as smoking and drinking excessive amounts of coffee but my list is as follows:
- Get at least 6 hours of sleep each night
- Take my morning and night time medication at the same times every day
- Stretch each morning and ‘legs up the wall’ every night before bed
- If a headache starts to worsen perform preventative tasks such as a cold eye mask, hot bath, or use Saje peppermint halo headache remedy
- Massage therapy
- Stay warm, eat properly, keep stress to a minimum
I want to quickly touch on massage therapy. I personally am in the midst of starting physiotherapy due to my excessive amount of migraines. Many times a tension headache or a migraine is actually a symptom of a bigger issue in the body. I have back issues and spinal cord trouble along with chronic pain which manifests within my rainbow headaches. Please see your doctor about your headaches/migraines before starting any type of treatment and ask for a physical to rule out any possible health concerns.
I personally find it fun to try new coping strategies, make lists of what works and what doesn’t, and really pay attention to how my body is feeling, how my emotions are functioning, how much sleep and food I’m getting, and what kind of lifestyle I’m living. As a yoga teacher, I practice an Ahimsa (non-harming) lifestyle which includes veganism, taking care of plants and my animals, while regularly meditating, performing self-care, and surrounding to a higher power. You don’t have to do any of this because it’s your body and your body will have several different ways of producing the pain of a headache. I suggest making a journal and from there see what works and what doesn’t. Rate the pain of your headaches and write down what you were doing when it happened, what you ate that day, and how you were feeling emotionally.