Migraine Quiz

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder and Migraine

There has a long been a well-known association between bipolar disorder and migraine headaches, but until recently, this had not been formally studied. Several recent studies have remedied this.

In one small series of psychiatric patients (62) admitted to the hospital, and assessed for migraine, 48% of the women and 39% of the men had migraine. The prevalence was highest in those individuals who had bipolar disorder type II at 77%, and those had more migraine attacks as well.

A study of Latino adults of Mexican-American origin found a stronger correlation between migraine and bipolar disorder than between migraine and depression. A Canadian study found that depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder were all about twice as prevalent in migraine sufferers as in the general population.

Bipolar disorder has been assessed in large population-based studies, and the risk of developing bipolar disorder if you have migraine is between 3 and 7 times higher than if you do not have migraine.

These associations have led to a search for a common genetic marker for migraine and bipolar disorder.


1. Low NCP, Merikangas KR. The comorbidity of migraine. CNS Spectr. 2003;8(6):433-434, 437-444. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12858133
2. Hamelsky SW, Lipton RB. Psychiatric comorbidity of migraine. Headache. 2006;46(9):1327-1333. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17040330
3. Dilsaver SC, Benazzi F, Oedegaard KJ, et al. Migraine Headache in Affectively Ill Latino Adults of Mexican American Origin Is Associated With Bipolarity. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2009;11(6):302-306. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20098521
4. Jette N, Patten S, Williams J, Becker W, Wiebe S. Comorbidity of migraine and psychiatric disorders--a national population-based study. Headache. 2008;48(4):501-516. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18070059
5. Oedegaard KJ, Greenwood TA, Lunde A, et al. A genome-wide linkage study of bipolar disorder and co-morbid migraine: Replication of migraine linkage on chromosome 4q24, and suggestion of an overlapping susceptibility region for both disorders on chromosome 20p11. J Affect Disord. 2009. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19819557

by Christina Peterson, MD

updated Feb 7, 2010