Pandemonium Versus Paralysis: The Internal Experience of Adolescent Girls with Headaches

Elin A. Björling 1, Narayan Singh 2 *

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp. 49-68

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Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) have been shown to be successful in treating mood disorders in adolescents. However, the application of MBI treatments for non-clinical populations may be a missed opportunity. Globally, headache affects 54 percent of school-age girls, and headaches are often correlated with poor mental health. In order to better understand the internal experience of teen girls with headaches, we conducted a modified grounded theory exploring two adolescent samples totaling 39 girls (ages 13-18). This study led to a theory of Pandemonium versus Paralysis - a cycling between feeling “cluttered,” or “unable to think” and feeling “dead” or “incapable of functioning.” This theory illustrated the teens’ internal experience of managing their stress and headaches. We then confirmed our theory within existing literature, current media, and anecdotal experience. We propose that teens oscillating between the polarities of pandemonium versus paralysis would greatly benefit from building their awareness through evidence-based therapies such as mindfulness-based stress reduction which may in turn reduce their headaches.

Keywords: Adolescence, Grounded Theory, Headache, Perceived Stress.