Women's health * Healthy living

Migraine increases the risk of depression in women

Migraines increase the risk of depression in women Applies to all types of migraine

Women who suffer from migraines not only have to put up with the debilitating pain that can come with the headaches, but now research suggests they are also at increased risk of depression.

A US study found that women who have migraines, or who have had them in the past, are at an increased risk of developing depression, as compared to women who have never had migraines.

The researchers began with a group of 36,154 women without depression who were enrolled in a Women’s Health Study but had provided information about their migraines.

They were divided into groups according to whether they had active migraine with aura (classic migraine), active migraine without aura (common migraine), a past history of migraine but no problems in the past year, or no history of migraine at all.

Auras are warning symptoms that start just before the onset of a migraine and may include visual disturbances such as flashing lights, numbness or tingling sensation, slurred speech and concentration problems.

Some 6,456 of the women had current or past migraines. Over the following 14 years 3,971 of these women developed depression, making them 40 per cent more likely to develop depression than women who had no history of migraine.

The results were the same regardless of the type of migraine the women suffered from.

"This is one of the first large studies to examine the association between migraine and the development of depression over time," said Tobias Kurth, of the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Inserm in France. "We hope our findings will encourage doctors to speak to their migraine patients about the risk of depression and potential ways to prevent depression."

Migraines affect about one in seven adults in the UK, with women three times more likely to get them than men. They are most common from adolescence up to the age of 50. About half of all people who get migraines have a family history of them.

Typical migraine symptoms include a headache that lasts from four to 72 hours, throbbing pain sometimes on one side of the head, the headache worsening with activity, feeling sick and increased sensitivity to light and noise.

This article was published on Thu 23 February 2012

Image © forca - Fotolia.com

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