How a Childhood Activity May be Causing your Headaches


Recent research conducted by experts from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston suggests that adults who experienced childhood trauma, including abuse, neglect, or household issues, may be more susceptible to headaches.

The comprehensive study involved a staggering 154,000 participants from 19 different countries. Among these participants, approximately 48,000 individuals reported having endured traumatic events during their childhood, with nearly 25,000 subsequently diagnosed with primary headache disorders.

The study’s findings were compelling, revealing that 26% of those who experienced childhood trauma were afflicted with primary headache disorders, in stark contrast to the 12% prevalence among those who had not encountered such traumatic experiences.

This research underscores the alarming reality that individuals with a history of traumatic childhoods were 48% more likely to develop headache disorders compared to their counterparts without such experiences.

Furthermore, the study highlighted a direct correlation between the number of traumatic events experienced during childhood and the likelihood of suffering from headaches. Those who had endured a single traumatic event in their early years faced a 24% elevated risk of developing headache disorders. In contrast, those who had encountered four or more traumatic events were over twice as likely to experience such disorders.


The study categorized childhood traumas into two distinct groups: “threat traumas” encompassed physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as witnessing violence threats and enduring serious family conflicts. On the other hand, “deprivation traumas” included neglect, economic hardships, having a family member incarcerated, experiencing divorce or separation, parental death, and living in households with mental illness, chronic disability, or alcohol/substance abuse.

The study’s results indicated that “threat traumas” were associated with a 46% increased risk of developing headaches, while “deprivation traumas” were linked to a 35% increase in the likelihood of suffering from headache disorders.

Specifically, the research revealed that physical and sexual abuse were associated with a substantial 60% increased risk of headaches, while childhood neglect was found to lead to a nearly threefold elevated risk of headache disorders.

It is crucial to emphasize that the study demonstrates an association between past trauma and the likelihood of experiencing headaches, rather than establishing a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Nevertheless, these findings shed light on the potential long-term impact of childhood trauma on adult health outcomes, emphasizing the importance of addressing and providing support for individuals who have experienced such adverse events during their formative years.

Ammara Ahmed

Ammara Ahmed

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