Migraines Increase The Risk Of Depression, Especially In Young People

Suffering from migraines on a regular basis can lead to a higher rate of depression, especially in teens. A new study published in this week’s edition of the journal Depression Research and Treatment examines the effects of chronic, debilitating headaches.

The study, conducted by Dr. Esme Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair of the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, and her colleagues, reports a high level of depression among men with migraines (8.4 percent) compared to non-migraine sufferers (3.4 percent). In women depression account for 12.4 percent of migraine patients, compared to 5.7 percent for healthy females.

Researchers also discovered that young migraine sufferers were at an especially increased risk of depression. Women under the age of 30 who suffer from migraine headaches are six times more likely to suffer from depression compared to women over the age of 65. The study also found that unmarried women suffering from migraine headaches were at an even higher risk of depression.

“We are not sure why younger migraineurs have such a high likelihood of depression and suicidal ideation. It may be that younger people with migraines have not yet managed to find adequate treatment or develop coping mechanisms to minimize pain and the impact of this chronic illness on the rest of their lives,” study co-author Meghan Schrumm, a former graduate student at the university, said in a statement. “The much lower prevalence of depression and suicidal ideation among older migraineurs suggests a promising area for future research.”

Researchers analyzed patient data from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey, which represents a population of over 67,000 Canadian residence. Researchers found that 6,000 survey respondents had been clinically diagnosed with the headache-inducing chronic neurological condition.

In a statement the University proclaims:

“Consistent with prior research, the prevalence of migraines was much higher in women than men, with one in every seven women, compared to one in every 16 men, reporting that they had migraines. The study also investigated the relationship between migraine and suicidal ideation. For both men and women, those with migraines were much more likely to have ‘ever seriously considered suicide or taking (their) own life’ than were those without migraines (men: 15.6% versus 7.9%; women: 17.6% versus 9.1%).”

The study also found that patients under 30 who suffer from chronic migraines are four times as likely to have suicidal thoughts.

Also contributing to suicidal ideation are unmarried sufferers, people in lower income brackets, and individuals who have a limited amount of daily activities.

The study’s authors say it “confirms that migraine is associated with higher odds of current depression and lifetime suicidal ideation among Canadian men and women living in the community… It is already recommended that all those with migraine are screened for depression. The results of this study can be used to help identify the migraineurs who may require the most immediate attention, including those who are younger, unmarried, and experiencing limitations in their activities.”