New research suggests that adults who experienced childhood trauma such as abuse, neglect, or household issues may be more prone to headaches.
Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston conducted a study involving over 154,000 people in 19 countries.
Around 48,000 individuals reported experiencing traumatic events in childhood, and nearly 25,000 were diagnosed with primary headaches.
The study revealed that 26% of those who went through childhood trauma had primary headache disorders, compared to 12% of those without such experiences.
People with traumatic childhoods were 48% more likely to have headache disorders than those who did not.
The research also found that the more traumatic events experienced during childhood, the higher the likelihood of suffering from headaches.
People who endured one traumatic event in their early years had a 24% higher risk of headache disorders. However, those with four or more traumatic events were over twice as likely to develop headache disorders.
The study categorized traumas into two groups:
- "Threat traumas" included physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, witnessing violence threats, and serious family conflicts.
- "Deprivation traumas" encompassed neglect, economic hardships, having an incarcerated household member, divorce or separation, parental death, and living with mental illness, chronic disability, or alcohol/substance abuse in the family.
"Threat traumas" were linked to a 46% increased risk of headaches, while "deprivation traumas" were linked to a 35% increase.
In specific cases, physical and sexual abuse was associated with a 60% increased risk of headaches and childhood neglect led to a nearly threefold increased risk of headache disorders.
It's important to note that the study only shows an association between past trauma and future headaches, not a direct cause-and-effect relationship.