Migraine Quiz

Depression

Depression and Migraine

One of the most significant comorbid conditions associated with migraine is depression. This particular relationship is one that is considered bidirectional—it works both ways. What that means is that if you have a tendency toward depression, you are more likely to develop migraine headaches, but also if you are a migraine headache sufferer, you are more likely to become depressed. Careful population-based statistical studies have been done, and it does not look simply as if migraine headaches make you depressed, although that might seem a logical conclusion. It is not that simple.

Based on one of these large studies, a person is 2.9 times more likely to develop depression if they are a migraine sufferer, and a person is 3.8 times more likely to develop migraine if depressed.

Depression did not affect the frequency of migraine attacks, or the progression of migraine-related disability over time.

The situation is somewhat more significant for chronic daily headache, where the headache pain may have a more telling effect. Depression occurs in more than 80% of chronic daily headache sufferers. The comorbid depression often improves if the daily pain pattern can be broken, and an episodic pain pattern can be re-established.

If you suspect depression might be affecting you and your headache pain, discuss it with your physician.

references:

1. 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.
2. Moschiano F, D’Amico D, Canavero I, et al. Migraine and depression: common pathogenetic and therapeutic ground? Neurol. Sci. 2011;32 Suppl 1:S85-88.
3. Tietjen GE, Herial NA, Hardgrove J, Utley C, White L. Migraine comorbidity constellations. Headache. 2007;47(6):857-865.
4. Hamelsky SW, Lipton RB. Psychiatric comorbidity of migraine. Headache. 2006;46(9):1327-1333.
5. Low NCP, Merikangas KR. The comorbidity of migraine. CNS Spectr. 2003;8(6):433-434, 437-444.
6. Moschiano F, D’Amico D, Canavero I, et al. Migraine and depression: common pathogenetic and therapeutic ground? Neurol. Sci. 2011;32 Suppl 1:S85-88.
7. Ligthart L, Nyholt DR, Penninx BWJH, Boomsma DI. The shared genetics of migraine and anxious depression. Headache. 2010;50(10):1549-1560.

by Christina Peterson, MD

updated Feb 7, 2010