5 things to watch to keep your migraines from going chronic

There’s not much that’s more miserable than a migraine…

The pain that comes with one alone is bad enough, but the nausea, light and sound sensitivity, and the fact that migraines can steal days and days of your life is like adding insult to injury, something I know all too well.

Like many women, I was diagnosed with migraines in my 20s and the havoc they wreaked on my life and my health became a downward spiral.

That’s because while some people who have these uber-headaches only get them here and there, one or two days a month, for others, the condition becomes chronic — just another word for regular and constant misery — and have severe attacks 15 days every month (or more)!

And, despite the fact that a whopping four million people in the U.S. alone live with chronic migraines, predicting who will spiral into these repeated headache days has remained a mystery to doctors…

Until now.

Now, thanks to a brand new study (actually a huge meta-analysis of multiple studies) we now know that there are five factors that can predict that spiral that you should be aware of if you’re currently living with episodic migraines.

1. Depression

If you suffer from depression as well as migraines, your chances of progressing to the chronic level go up by a massive 58 percent — a statistic that’s depressing in and of itself.

Related: The vitamin D connection to your headaches

When asked about the link between the two conditions, Dawn Buse, Ph.D., the director of behavioral medicine at the Montefiore Headache Center and an associate professor in the Department of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, had this to say:

“We think there might be some underlying reason, maybe a genetic reason, or the fact that both depression and migraine act off similar biochemicals in the brain and in the body that predisposes someone to have one, and then the second.”

Diet could also play a part as a vitamin D deficiency has been tied to both depression and headaches.

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2. High frequency of attacks

This may sound obvious but if you have more migraines, you’re also more likely to progress to that 15 days a month threshold that lands you in the chronic category.

Yup, if you are already having five or more attacks per month, you’re 3.1 times more likely to move to the chronic level. And, if those migraines have leveled up to 10 a month or more, you’re at almost six times the risk for chronic migraines.

3. Medication overuse

Now, here’s a tough one…

That same medication you use to help manage the pain and get you through each and every migraine episode may actually be putting you at risk of worsening migraines.

In fact, medication overuse was linked to an 8.8 times higher chance of developing chronic migraines. This means that each of us who lives with the condition has to be vigilant when it comes to taking only the medication we have to and going natural whenever possible.

4. Allodynia

You may never have heard of allodynia, but it’s a sensory disorder where normal everyday stimuli (like a simple touch) causes you pain. This can show up when you run a comb through your hair, when you shave, or when you’re exposed to heat or cold as just a few examples.

If you’ve noticed that you have this increased sensitivity, your chance of progressing from episodic migraine to chronic migraine is a full 40 percent higher.

5. Income

And, here’s one from out in left field…

Your income also plays a role.

The meta-analysis found that people with lower incomes are more likely to become chronic migraine sufferers.

The results showed that having an income of $50,000 or more reduces the chances of progressing to chronic migraine by 35 percent.

According to the researchers, a likely explanation for this is that a higher income allows you more access to information and treatments that can help prevent the migraines from going chronic.

Chronic migraine prevention

Now that you know your risks and whether chronic migraines have you in their sights as their next victim, it’s time to take steps to lower your number of headache days naturally. And, the easiest way to do that is to check out these 7 steps to fewer migraines (including three supplements that can make a huge difference).


  1. Predictors of chronic migraine — EurekAlert
  2. The Link Between Migraine, Depression and Anxiety — American Migraine Foundation (AMF)
  3. Migraines vs. Chronic Migraines — WebMD
  4. Migraine Statistics — Migraine.com
Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.