Migraines Associated with Increased Risk of Depression

People with migraines are at twice the risk of depression as people without migraine headaches, particularly those under age 30, according to a new Canadian study.

People with migraines are at twice the risk of depression as people without migraine headaches, particularly those under age 30, say Canadian researchers. The study of more than 6,000 Canadians with migraines was published online in Depression Research and Treatment.

Data were analyzed from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey. Even when adjusting for sociodemographic variables and disability status, patients with migraines were found to have significantly elevated odds of depression and suicidal ideation. According to the research, 8.4 percent of men and 12.4 percent of women who experienced migraines also suffered from depression compared with 3.4 percent of men and 5.7 percent of women who did not have migraines.

Women under age 30 who suffered from migraines had six times the odds of being depressed than people ages 65 and older. Patients with migraines who were single or had trouble with daily activities were also at increased risk of depression.

The researchers are not sure why younger people with migraine have a high likelihood of depression and suicidal ideation. Esme Fuller-Thomson, PhD, lead author of the study, hypothesized that younger people with migraine have not yet managed to find adequate treatment or develop coping mechanisms to minimize pain and impact of this chronic illness.

The study concludes that there is a need for routine screening and interventions for depression and suicidal thought among younger people and unmarried people who suffer from migraine in addition to those who are limited in their daily activities because of migraine.