Many problems in life involve an underlying sense of physical or emotional pain. Emotional pain is everywhere; television shows depict it to enhance plots, schools conduct promotions to teach students about combatting low confidence and bullying, and friends send sympathy cards when someone they know experiences an emotionally painful loss. However, physical pain, especially chronic pain, does not always elicit as much of a response from others. Pain can be felt in many different ways and arise in any part of the body. Unfortunately, those experiencing pain may not speak about it often to others, making it difficult for anyone else besides the anguished individual to understand. While having chronic pain can be lonely and uncomfortable, it can also be a possible cause for suicidal thoughts. Studies suggest migraines, as well as other types of chronic pain, place some sufferers at a higher risk for committing suicide.
How Are Migraines Linked to Suicide?
A group of Canadian researchers found people suffering from migraines are twice as likely to be depressed as someone who does not have migraines. Among those sufferers, those especially younger than 30 years old stand at a higher risk of committing suicide. Of the study participants, 8 percent of men and 12 percent of women suffered from depression and had migraines compared to the 3 percent of men and 6 percent of women who suffered from depression without having migraines. Furthermore, 16 percent of men with migraines and 18 percent of women with migraines seriously considered suicide as opposed to the 8 percent of men and 9 percent of women who seriously considered suicide and did not suffer from migraines.
People with migraines may be at a higher risk for suicide if they have aura, flashes of light or other sensory symptoms during migraines, though not all migraine sufferers experience suicidal thoughts or have mental illnesses. The study suggested younger people have not yet learned coping mechanisms for their migraines as well as older sufferers have who have been dealing with the pain longer. People may also lose hope of recovery or become unable to work or attend social events because of the pain, elevating the suicide risk. Depression can set in when one who suffers from pain used to be healthy and active and, due to the presence of pain, can no longer engage in the activities he or she enjoyed.
Negative expectations about healing or the stigma associated with having chronic pain can prevent people from seeking treatment. However, getting the proper help may relieve suicidal thoughts and open doors to better ways of living. A mental health professional can identify patients’ negative emotions and help them to think in positive ways. A psychiatrist may also prescribe antidepressants to help the patient more effectively manage the depression. Chronic pain sufferers should also keep in contact with others; every human needs a healthy dose of social interaction, and feeling lonely or living in isolation due to chronic pain can make depression even worse. One should also exercise regularly if he or she is able. Exercising can release stress and endorphins, which can brighten one’s mood. Also, seeking pain management treatments can help sufferers reduce pain and increase tolerance of their condition.
How Do I Defend Against Recurring Migraines?
The first line of defense in fighting off migraines is prevention by learning one’s triggers and avoiding them accordingly. Overuse of migraine medication and certain weather conditions, like barometric pressure changes, humidity, wind and the effects of electromagnetic waves from lightning, can spur migraines. The risk of having a migraine can increase by 20 percent in some when their moods change from stressed or nervous to happy and carefree. Also, some believe sex wards off migraines, yet it can bring them on due to physical exertion.
Migraines and other types of chronic pain can be debilitating and depressing, yet sufferers are not alone. Depression can be a natural result of chronic pain, but it does not have to be a permanent one. Those who are, or know someone who is, experiencing suicidal thoughts should seek help. Many have received treatment for depression, giving them new outlooks on life and keeping negative thoughts at bay. Taking a step toward mental healing can be rejuvenating and comforting for those who reach out.