Depression More Common in Children With vs Without Chronic Migraine

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Compared with healthy control participants, pediatric patients with chronic migraine reported a higher rate of depression.

Compared with healthy control participants, pediatric patients with chronic migraine (CM) report a higher rate of depression, according to study findings published in Pediatric Neurology. Researchers suggested that clinicians should consider including therapy in first-line interventions to reduce depression and improve coping strategies for the management of pediatric CM.

Data for this study were obtained from a parent study that examined functional connectivity in children (age range, 12-17 years) with migraine. In total, the sample included 23 children (22 girls) with CM and 17 children (9 girls) without a medical illness. Researchers estimated the general intelligence of study participants using the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence, depression by the self-reported Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI-2), and memory using the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT).

Compared with healthy control participants, pediatric patients with CM self-reported significantly more depression (mean CDI-2 total scores, 43.4 vs 50.2, respectively; P =.02). Despite this difference, there were no significant differences between the 2 groups in terms of CBCL attention scores (P =.08), CVLT total learning scores (P =.82), CVLT list B scores (P =.90), and CVLT long delay scores (P =.85). A higher proportion of children with CM reported clinically elevated depression (defined as T-score ≥60), but this did not reach statistical significance (P =.06).

Study limitations included the fact that the 2 groups differed by biological sex, the small sample sizes, and the lack of consideration for confounding variables during the assessment.

Researchers suggest that physicians should consider how depression “symptoms are measured and the [effect] that mental health may have on symptom appraisals when developing treatment plans” for children with CM.


Araujo GC, Dodd JN, Psy D, Mar S. Cognitive and emotional functioning in pediatric migraine relative to healthy controls [published online June 11, 2020]. Pediatr Neurol. doi:10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2020.06.003