Effects of food deprivation and a stressor on head pain

Health Psychol. 1997 Jul;16(4):310-8. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.16.4.310.


This study sought to experimentally validate 2 self-reported trigger factors of headaches, namely negative affect (anxiety, depression, and anger) and hunger, and to investigate whether these triggers activated the same or different physiological mechanisms. Students (38 women and 18 men) who had suffered from frequent headaches (migraine or tension type) for 6 months or more were randomly assigned to 4 conditions, which involved manipulating hunger by means of 19 hr of food deprivation and negative affect by means of a stressor (difficult to solve anagrams). The findings were consistent with self-reports that hunger and negative affect can precipitate headaches in individuals who suffer from both migraine and tension-type headaches. The physiological responses to the experimental conditions differed, but the findings were not conclusive with respect to whether the trigger factors operated by means of a common biological pathway.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Food Deprivation / physiology*
  • Headache / physiopathology*
  • Headache / psychology
  • Humans
  • Hunger / physiology*
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Migraine Disorders / psychology
  • Problem Solving / physiology
  • Psychophysiology
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*