A migraine headache is not the same as the usual kind of headache most people have every now and then.

Many people who suffer from migraine headaches each year need psychiatric care in addition to headache relief. Migraine headaches often coexist with depression, anxiety/ panic disorders, bipolar disorders, phobias, stroke and epilepsy. Migraine headaches are usually characterized by severe pain on one or both sides of the head, an upset stomach, and, at times, disturbed vision. Some people only get them occasionally, while others are incapacitated by migraines for several days every month. Migraines are more common in women than in men.

What are some of the symptoms of migraines?
Headaches are considered to be migraines when typical symptoms have occurred at least five times. Migraine symptoms may include:

  • Pulsating, throbbing, or pounding pain affecting one side of the head
  • Worsening pain during physical activity or with little movement
  • Accompanying nausea, vomiting, and/or dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light and/or noise
  • Experiencing “auras” (for example: seeing flashing lights, blurred vision, abnormal sensations such as tingling)

What causes migraines?
It’s not clear exactly what causes migraines. Researchers have a few theories including inflamed blood vessels in the brain and the way the brain processes pain signals. Stress, an irregular eating and sleeping schedule, a poor diet, and lack of regular exercise are connected to an increased likelihood of migraine attacks. Some rare forms of migraines are associated with a genetic abnormality. Keeping a migraine diary can help you learn whether these factors affect you.

How does Botox treat migraines?
Botox is FDA-approved for chronic migraines (having a migraine 15 days or more in a month) in adults age 18 and over. Botox is a type of neurotoxin produced by the bacteria that causes botulism. When used in tiny doses it temporarily reduces muscle contractions. This effect lasts for approximately 3 months but results vary between patients.

Will my insurance pay for Botox?
Because Botox is FDA-approved for chronic migraine, your insurance company may cover this treatment. It is important to note, however, that your insurance company may require you to have tried and failed to respond to other treatments before approving payment.

Additional Resources

Five ways to Eliminate Migraines
Ovarian Hormones and Migraine Headache
Headache Wheel
Treating Migraines in Patients With Psychiatric Disorders

Please remember this information is intended for educational purposes only and should not substitute medical advice from a healthcare provider.