Frequency of Migraine Associated With Depression, Anxiety

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Many patients in this study who had chronic headaches and a high frequency of migraine were taking prescribed migraine medications.
Many patients in this study who had chronic headaches and a high frequency of migraine were taking prescribed migraine medications.

The frequency of migraine — with or without aura — may be correlated with the patient's score of symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to findings from a cross-sectional study published in Headache.

A total of 588 outpatients from Taiwan with a clinical history of migraine were included in this study. Depression was assessed using the 21-question Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). BDI scores were highest in study participants who had chronic migraine (13.2±8.5).

In patients with sporadic migraine, BDI score was evaluated by migraine frequency and was 12.1±8.5 in patients with a high frequency of migraine, 10.6±8.0 for those with a medium frequency, 12.1±8.5 for those with a low frequency, and 6.6±5.9 for participants not experiencing migraines. A trend was established between frequency of migraine and depression score (Ptrend <.001).

In addition, the researchers observed similar associations between high Hospital Anxiety and Depression Subscales scores and migraine frequency. According to the findings, the association between migraine frequency and BDI score was observed in migraines with aura (Ptrend =.001) and without aura (Ptrend =.029).

Although these findings indicate a correlation between migraine frequency and depression/anxiety, the cross-sectional study design does not allow the establishment of a causal relationship. In addition, the small number of patients in this study limits the ability to generalize the findings to a broader population.

The investigators also note that many patients in this study who had chronic headaches and a high frequency of migraine were taking prescribed migraine medications, many of which have an effect on anxiety or depression.

The investigators indicate that their findings “suggest that preventive pharmacological treatments may reduce the risk of depression and anxiety problems” in patients with chronic migraine.

Reference

Chu HT, Liang CS, Lee JT, et al. Associations between depression/anxiety and headache frequency in migraineurs: a cross-sectional study [published online October 18, 2017]. Headache. doi:10.1111/head.13215

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