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Migraines and ADHD: The Overlooked Connection to Headaches

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Though few connect the two, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and headaches can be linked in important ways. Research shows that people with ADHD are at greater risk for experiencing headaches (including migraines, a type of primary headache) compared to people without ADHD.123 What’s more, headaches are common in other psychiatric conditions, many of which co-occur with ADHD.4Though the underlying connections between ADHD and headaches are not fully understood, headaches cause undue pain and stress in patients as they attempt to manage existing ADHD symptoms and challenges.

Still, the medical community largely overlooks or dismisses the association, to the disservice of patients.When healthcare providers recognize that these conditions are connected – and approach treatment holistically — quality of care improves and patients function better.Children with ADHD may be twice as likely to experience headaches as are children without ADHD.1 Children with ADHD are also at greater risk for migraines than are children without ADHD, and frequency of migraine headaches may be directly linked to risk of ADHD.2 The issue extends into adulthood as well.

One study estimates that migraines occur with ADHD about 35% of the time in adult patients.3Headaches, including migraine headaches, do seem to be triggered by ADHD.

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