Migraines and mood disorders may be connected

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Research suggests that people who suffer from migraine headaches are at increased risk of also suffering from mood and anxiety disorders.

“An expanding body of literature has shown that migraine headaches are associated with higher rates of mental disorders,” Dr. Jitender Sareen, of the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, and colleagues point out in a published report. However, previous studies have been subject to a number of limitations.

To better clarify this relationship, Sareen and colleagues analyzed data from the German Health Survey conducted between 1997 and 1999. Migraines were diagnosed by a doctor and trained interviewers evaluated participants for mental disorders.

Among 7,124 adults, 11.7 percent reported a history of migraine headache. According to the team, there was a significant association between having migraine headaches in the past 12 months and suffering from various mood and anxiety disorders.

“Although the cross-sectional nature of this study cannot determine causality, there are several possible explanations of the relationship between migraine and mental disorders,” Sareen’s team notes.

It may be that a common environmental or genetic factor influences both migraines and mood/anxiety disorders, they suggest. A causal relationship may also exist between mental disorders and migraines, they add, noting that this study and others found that anxiety often precedes migraine, which often precedes depression.

SOURCE: General Hospital Psychiatry, January/February 2009.

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