Depression and Migraines Linked in Women

You may have noticed migraine headaches (severe and often crippling attacks that frequently leave sufferers vomiting and sensitive to light and sound) tend to strike more in females than males- but researchers have identified a possible new link between migraines and depression as well.

In fact, three times as many women are migrane sufferers than men- but the depression link is a newer discovery that researchers believe patients and doctors should be aware of for better preventive care. Results from the new study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology in April, but have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The data comes from the study of over 36,000 women over the age of 45 who “were categorized either as having active migraine with aura (visual disturbances such as flashing lights or temporary loss of vision); active migraine without aura; prior history of migraine; or no history of migraine.” The women in the study had no previous history of depression, but provided information about subsequent bouts of depression or diagnoses.

Of the 36,000 participants, 6,400 were active or previous migraine sufferers, and of those women, 4,000 reported developing depression after the study began. Dr. Tobias Kurth, a neuroepidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and senior author of the study, commented:

“We believe the most important aspect of our study is that migraine patients and their physicians should keep this potential link in mind.”

The study ultimately found that women with any history of suffering migraine headaches had a 36% increase in risk of developing depression.