LGBTQ+ people are more likely to suffer from migraines, scientists say


LGBTQ+ people are more prone to headaches (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Gay, lesbian and bisexual people may be more prone to having migraines, a new study suggests.

Published in the journal JAMA, research has found that LGB communities hare 58% more likely to experience migraines in their lives than heterosexual people.

While the study didn’t come to a finite conclusion as to why that might be the case, the study’s lead author suggested that it could be down to stress caused by discrimination.

He told Insider that ‘lesbian, gay and bisexual people may experience prejudice and discrimination which can lead to stress and trigger a migraine. They may also face barriers to accessing healthcare which can lead to worsened health.’

This isn’t the first study to suggest that discrimination-based stress can have physical ramifications for marginalised groups.

A 2019 study by the University of Southern California looked into the toxic effect of racism and found that ‘racial discrimination appears to trigger an inflammatory response among African Americans at a cellular level’ – putting them at risk of heart attacks, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.

The stress that comes from discrimination is different from that caused by poverty – which is often seen as being one of the big factors in health inequality. According to April Thames, an associate professor of psychology and psychiatry, that’s because people are aware of their poverty and therefore have more power over it, whereas things like racism are often insidious. You have no control over the discrimination you face – whether it’s racial, gender-based or homophobic. You can’t change the colour of your skin or sexual preferences.

Stress is the biggest trigger for almost 70% of people with migraines, according to the American Migraine Foundation and often, the fear of an attack and prompt one which means being stuck in a never-ending cycle.

While you can’t erase the stress that comes from prejudice, you can reduce other stressors in your life by prioritising sleep, practicing meditation, exercising regularly and talking about things that are causing you grief.

If you’re experiencing discrimination, talk to someone about it. Citizens Advice can help address any issues happening in your workplace while Stonewall can put you in touch with groups and safe spaces in your area.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.

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