Migraine raises risk of depression, suicidal ideation

Suffering from frequent migraines is devastating. But what’s more damaging is that these debilitating headaches can double the risk of depression.

According to the findings of a new study, young people who suffer from migraines on a regular basis also run an increased risk of depression.

The study, conducted the researchers at the University of Toronto (U of T), found much higher incidence of depression and suicidal ideation among young individuals with migraine as compared to those without the disease.

The study
For the purpose of the study, researchers looked more than 67,000 individuals the health records of whom were collected for the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey.

Nearly 6,000 study subjects suffered from migraines.

Researchers found that the prevalence of depression was significantly higher in people suffering from migraines than in those not suffering from the condition. Furthermore, the associations were gender-specific, with prevalence much higher in women than men.

In men depression accounted for 8.4 percent of migraine patients, compared to 3.4 percent non-migraine sufferers, while in females a high level of depression was reported among migraine sufferers (12.4 percent) compared to healthy counterparts (5.7 percent).

Surprisingly, young migraine sufferers, especially those below 30, faced six time higher risk of developing depression as compared to those above 65 years.

The researchers also found a relationship between migraine and suicidal ideation. Both men and women, suffering from migraines were much more likely to have “ever seriously considered suicide or taking (their) own life” than were those without migraines, researchers pointed.

“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’s co-author Meghan Schrumm, speculated. “The much lower prevalence of depression and suicidal ideation among older migraineurs suggests a promising area for future research.”

The findings “draws further attention to the need for routine screening and targeted interventions for depression and suicidal [tendencies], particularly among the most vulnerable migraineurs- individuals who are young, unmarried and those with activity limitations,” researchers added.

The findings of the study appear online this week in the journal Depression Research and Treatment.