Migraines Forecast Mood Disorder

Depression more likely in women with migraines

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) If you’ve had a migraine headache in the past there’s a good chance there are more health issues to come, a new study suggests.

Research released today indicated that over forty percent of women who reported having a current or past migraine were later diagnosed with depression.

"Talk to a counselor if exhibiting symptoms of depression. "

Lead author of the study, Tobias Kurth, MD, ScD, said, “This is one of the first large studies to examine the association between migraine and the development of depression over time.”

For the study, 36,154 females were questioned about their history with migraines, and fourteen years later Dr. Kurth and his team followed up.

In the initial interviews, the doctors characterized the women as either having an active migraine with aura, an active migraine without an aura, a past history of migraines, or no migraine. “Aura” refers to visual disturbances such as spots, lines, lights, or a temporary loss.

Of the women questioned, 6,456 were experiencing or had experienced migraine headaches of some variety. Of the entire study group, 3,971 went on to develop depressive disorder.

The authors’ study indicates that women who had any form of migraine headache in the past were significantly more likely to become depressed than those with no history.

They did not find statistical differences between depression risks amongst varying forms or intensities of migraines. Those experiencing an aura were just as likely to develop depression as those who were not.

dailyRx contributing expert James Barr, MD, works with both migraines and depression as a family physician in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Dr. Barr said, "This study provides further documentation of the association between depression and chronic or recurring health conditions like migraines" and suggested both physicians and patients alike adapt to the implications of these findings.  

"Physicians should utilize appropriate depression screenings as part of the regular care plan for migraine patients," said Dr. Barr.  "Patients experiencing migraines should educate themselves on the signs and symptoms of depression, communicating the presence of these with their health care providers.

"Early detection and proper management [of depression] can provide the best outcomes."

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded the study along with the National Cancer Institute. The findings will be presented on April 21 through April 28 of 2012 at the American Academy of Neurology’s 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans. No conflicts were reported.

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Last Updated:
July 18, 2012