Depression Risk For Migraine Sufferers
October 18, 2013

Migraines Increase Risk Of Depression, Especially In Younger People

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

People who suffer from migraines are roughly twice as likely to suffer from depression as those who do not experience the chronic, debilitating headaches, according to new research published online in this week’s edition of the journal Depression Research and Treatment.

Dr. Esme Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair of the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, and her colleagues report that the prevalence of depression among men with migraines was significantly higher (8.4 percent) than in those not suffering from the condition (3.4 percent). Similar results were observed in women (12.4 percent for migraine patients, 5.7 for healthy females).

Furthermore, the researchers found that younger migraine sufferers were at an especially increased risk of depression. Women under the age of 30 who had migraines were six times more likely to suffer from severe despondency when compared to female migraine patients over the age of 65. Those who were unmarried, and those who had difficulty with day-to-day activities due to their headaches were also found to be at increased 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.”

Dr. Fuller-Thomson, Schrumm and their colleagues analyzed data originating from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey, a representative sample of over 67,000 Canadian residence. They looked at gender-specific associations between depression and migraines, and found that more than 6,000 survey respondents said that they had been clinically diagnosed with the headache-inducing chronic neurological condition.

“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 university said. “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%).”

People under the age of 30 who suffered from migraines were reportedly four-times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than people over the age of 65 who were suffering from the same condition. Furthermore, the study authors also found that unmarried migraineurs, those with lower household incomes, and those with greater limitations on their daily activities also had higher levels of suicidal ideation.

According to the authors, their research “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.”