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Halo

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Reviewed by: John M. Grohol, Psy. D.
on Tuesday, Jan, 9, 2007

According to a new study, women who experience chronic headaches, especially migraines, are four-times as likely to report symptoms of major depression as individuals who have episodic headaches. Women with chronic headaches also report feeling tired and frequently suffer severe physical maladies.

The study of more than one thousand women enrolled in headache clinics in five states, is found in the January 9, 2007, issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Of the women surveyed, 593 reported episodic headache (fewer than 15 headaches per month) and 439 had chronic headache (more than 15 headaches per month). Ninety percent of the women were diagnosed with migraines.

The study found women with chronic headache were four times more likely than those with episodic headache to report symptoms of major depression.

Chronic headache sufferers were also three times more likely to report a high degree of symptoms related to headache, such as low energy, trouble sleeping, nausea, dizziness, pain or problems during intercourse, and pain in the stomach, back, arms, legs, and joints.

Among patients diagnosed with severely disabling migraine, the study found the likelihood of major depression increased 32-fold if the patient also reported other severe symptoms.

?Painful physical symptoms may provoke or be a manifestation of major depression in women with chronic headache, and depression may heighten pain perception,? said study author Gretchen Tietjen, MD with the University of Toledo-Health Science Campus and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

?This relation between migraine and major depression suggests a common neurobiology.?

Tietjen says studies are underway to test whether severe headache, severe physical symptoms and major depression may be linked through dysfunction of serotonin in the central nervous system.

?Regardless of what?s causing the link between migraine and depression, psychiatric disease such as depression complicates headache management and can lead to poorer outcomes for headache management,? said Tietjen.

Source: American Academy of Neurology
 

Misha

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I always get confused with wording on these things... it's just a correlation, right... people with migraines often have depression AND people with depression often have migraines, or is it one or the other? If it's one or the other, can treating depression help migraines or can treating migraines help depression?
I guess that's the point of doing studies, but I always get confused....
(AHHH my mind is not working... must eat....)
 

^^Phoenix^^

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“This relation between migraine and major depression suggests a common neurobiology.”

Yup, its a correlation. It means that one could be causing the other, or the same one thing could be causing both, or that the reactions within the brain for both are similar etc. Its just stating that a relationship was observed - or a 'link' tying them together.
 

David Baxter

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To clarify, it's not JUST a correlation. Those with migraines were "four times more likely" to also suffer from depression. That makes having migraines a risk factor for developing depression. The reverse is not necessarily true, however, and it doesn't mean that all (or even necessarily most) individuals with migraine will develop depression.
 

^^Phoenix^^

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I aggree with David here - The reverse is not necessarily true, however there could be a chance that depression influences migraines:

?Regardless of what?s causing the link between migraine and depression, psychiatric disease such as depression complicates headache management and can lead to poorer outcomes for headache management,? said Tietjen.

So whats the verdict? Its a correlation wth a strong (4 times) suggestion that those with Migrains will suffer from depression?
 

David Baxter

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If you think of it in terms of risk versus correlation, it's easier to understand.

For example, any potential outcome has associated with it certain risk factors. In criminology, known risk factors for delinquency are poverty, being raised by a young single mother, poor academic achievement, being a victim of child abuse or neglect, and several others. On the other hand, there are also several protective factors, such as high IQ, good extended family support, etc. Risk factors increase the likelihood of a negative outcome. Protective factors reduce the likelihood, counteracting the presence of those risk factors.

Studies of risk for cancer and other physical illnesses or conditions, as well as certain mental conditions, do the same thing - you look at the overall balance of number and strength of risk factors versus number and strength of protective factors.

What the migraine study seems to be saying is that having migraines is a significant risk factor for depression. Whether a migraine sufferer develops depression will depend on whether there are also other risk factors (e.g., genetics, certain life stressors, etc.) and whether there are any protective factors.
 

ThatLady

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You gotta kinda wonder if having migraines all the time wouldn't tend to make somebody depressed! :panic:
 

Misha

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Much clearer!! I suffer from tension headaches so I definately understand that relationship.... and yes when I have a lot of pain it does affect my depression, and vice versa.
 

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