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Study: Women with Migraines more Prone to Depression

An occasional severe headache might be an indication of a more serious ailment.

woman migraineA 14-year-old study looked into the long speculated association between migraines and a higher risk to developing depression. 36,154 women were included in the study, wherein 6,456 often suffered from migraines in the past. The findings reveal that women with a history of migraines were 40 percent more likely to suffer from clinical depression than those without a history of migraines.

The study will be presented at the 64th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.

Says Dr. Timothy A. Collins, neurologist from the Duke University Medical Center, "This study confirms it: Having migraines increases your risk of depression, which we've suspected for many years."

Migraines can last for as long as 72 hours and is usually experienced as a pulsating pain accompanied by dizziness, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. In fact, in the United States, 1 out of 10 Americans suffer from migraines, but women are prone to experiencing them three times more than men.

What’s also alarming to note is that even when the pain brought by migraine dissipates or disappears entirely, the risk for depression still increases.

The researchers looked in further at other factors such as age, smoking and drinking habits, and discovered that these and the type of migraine had no influence on the risk for depression.

A certain type of migraine, called migraine with aura, occurs in one fourth of migraine cases. Migraine with aura is a condition where in the headaches are preceded by episodes of flashing lights, dizziness, and other sensory disturbances.

Says neurologist Jason Rosenberg, M.D., director of a headache center in Baltimore, “It's been well-known that migraine and depression occur together much more commonly than can be explained by chance. This study gets us one step closer to establishing the link that migraine seems to precede depression."

Do you frequently have migraines? Talk to your doctor about how often your migraines are. Adds Collins, "There's medication that can alleviate the pain as well as prevent them from happening so often.”

Sources:

February 22, 2012. “Women With Migraines May Have Higher Depression Risk, Study Shows” hufftingtonpost.com

February 22, 2012. Matt McMillen. “Migraines may raise depression risk in women, researchers find” edition.cnn.com

February 23, 2012. Alexandra Sifferlin. “Study: Migraines May Raise the Risk of Depression in Women” healthland.time.com

February 23, 2012. Jason Le Miere. “Migraine, Depression Linked in Women: What Are the Odds, Risks?” ibtimes.com

February 23, 2012. Linda Thrasybule. “Migraines linked to depression in women” todayhealth.today.msnbc.com

Photo by Christos Tsoumplekas via flickr creative commons

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