Is There a Link?
One factor that points strongly to there being a medical link was supported in a study of people who suffer from depression and reported that after a depressive episode or period, a migraine attack was often triggered. Some researchers have also found people who suffer from migraine with aura are more likely to have depression than people who have migraine without aura.
Statistically, there is also an increased risk of anxiety and the risk of panic disorder is greater for migraineurs than for non-migraineurs.
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston conducted a recent study that found women who suffer from migraine headaches were more likely to develop depression.
The large-scale study examined the risk of depression among more than 36,000 women who took part in the study. To be part of it, the women could not have ever had depression or depression symptoms prior to the study.
The researchers divided the women into four categories: active migraine with aura sufferers (visual disturbances like flashing lights sometimes associated with migraine headaches), active migraine without aura, past history of migraine (but no recent attacks in the last 12 months) and those that had never had a migraine. During about 14 years of follow-up, 3,971 women were diagnosed with depression.
The study found that women with a history of ongoing migraines were 36 percent more likely to develop depression versus women who had never experienced migraine. Additionally, women who had experienced migraine in the past were 41 percent more likely to experience depression.
Contributing Factors to Both Conditions
Doctors now believe estrogen can make both migraines and depression worsen. Women often report their headaches and mood shifts are triggered by their menstrual cycle. Studies have also shown that women who take oral contraceptives are often plagued by symptoms of both conditions.
And statistics show that about three times as many women get regular migraine attacks compared to males. Hormonal changes seem to play a large role in triggering a migraine.
Treatments and Help
If you think you might also be suffering with depression, let your doctor know. There are medications that can help, as well as other therapies and treatment options. There is hope for you to feel better and more like yourself, so you may enjoy the good, migraine-free days.
Your doctor may prescribe a serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or monoamine oxidase inhibitors, which are drugs that can be used in combination with certain migraine pain medicines. In some cases they can be combined with antidepressants for greater results. By addressing both conditions many patients have felt a greater control over all of their symptoms.