Depression and migraine: both can be debilitating health issues, and both are associated with brain chemistry. It may not be that surprising that having excruciatingly painful headache-like episodes could generate a clinically negative perspective in a patient. However, a study conducted in 2011 revealed that the connection can be formed in the reverse order: depression can cause migraines (1).
Because there is such a strong connection in both directions, the scholars behind the study argued that anyone suffering a migraine should become familiar with typical signs of depression. Those suffering depression should, in turn, be aware of migraine symptoms so they know if they're developing that issue as well.
Migraine Prevalence & Decade-Long Observation
In the United States, almost 30 million members of the adult population have been diagnosed with migraine. Women are significantly more at risk of the health issue than men are (while the reverse is true of cluster headaches). The primary purpose of this study was to prove that both disorders generated greater risk of the other one, rather than it simply being a one-way street.
The researchers studied the statistics of over 15,000 Canadian citizens. The study looked at information across the span of over 10 years for the Canadian subjects. The basic conclusions of the study were as follows:
• Anyone with regular migraine symptoms is 60% more likely to experience a major depressive episode (MDE) than someone without those symptoms.
• If a person has an MDE, it's 40% more likely that the patient will be diagnosed with migraine as well.
The neurologists behind the study argued that healthy mental calming mechanisms that form early in life could be absent in people with both of the two disorders. They admitted, in the end, that though there was strong support of a link, they were unable to determine conclusively that depression causes migraines.
Migraine, Depression, & Women
Another study, presented at an American Academy of Neurology conference in 2012, specifically focused on women's likelihood to experience the two disorders (2). Using the health records of over 36,000 women, researchers concluded that those suffering migraine symptoms were 41% more likely to develop depression.
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