A new study confirms what you already knew- migraines in women cause depression. Scientists surveyed 36,000 women for a Women’s Health Study, hoping to learn more about cancer prevention, and instead stumbled upon this serendipitous discovery linking migraine headaches and depression. This is one of the largest studies to expose the high risk of severe depression among female migraine sufferers, and chronic headache patients around the world hope it will open the doors to more extensive research on migraine illness and depression.
Women’s health study links migraines and depression
A recent study backed up by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) concluded some revealing findings about female migraine sufferers and depression.
While the study’s initial aim was to research vitamin E and aspirin for preventing heart disease in women, Dr. Tobias Kurth of Brigham and Women’s Hospital was able to use the 14-year data to make the following observations:
- Out of 36,000 women participants, approximately 6,000 admitted to suffering from migraine headaches.
- In the beginning of the study, none of the female participants reported any prior history of depression.
- During the 14-year follow-up, researchers recorded deep depression in about 4,000 women.
- Scientists concluded that women who suffer from migraines or other chronic headaches are about 40% more likely to suffer from severe depression than are women who don’t get migraines.
- While scientists cannot confirm that migraines cause depression, nor vice versa, they do, however, acknowledge a proven correlation between the two.
Migraine attacks are invasive, and difficult to get rid of. Particularly strong migraine attacks can last for days, and require another few days for recuperation. For many chronic migraine patients, pulsing headaches are an everyday occurrence.
Other migraine symptoms besides headache include:
- Severe nausea
- Stomach cramps
- Hypersensitivity to things like lights, sounds, and scents
If you experience migraines with aura, then you may also experience:
- Visual distortions
- Momentary partial blindness
- Momentary partial paralysis
- Olfactory hallucinations
- Temporary speech impairments
- Loss of spatial awareness
Migraines are disabling
Migraine attacks are so debilitating that when they strike, you are at their mercy. They block out all other priorities, much in the same way an eclipse blocks out the sun. You miss work, you make excuses to friends for your absence, and all household chores get put on the backburner. When a migraine attacks, you can do little else other than lie in bed in a dark room and wait…
Migraines and depression
Suffering from migraines is an isolating experience, and it’s depressing watching life go by outside your bedroom window. Even migraine-free days are haunted by feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and anger.
Depression makes it hard to imagine that things can ever be better, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy; where there is little hope, there is little relief from pain. On the flip side, chronic pain patients who manage to overcome depression and keep their hopes up are exceedingly more likely to cope well with their pain symptoms and recover.
Migraine treatments that do double-duty
It’s not uncommon for headache specialists to prescribe antidepressants for their migraine patients. For some, using antidepressants such as sertraline may reduce migraine symptoms and conquer depression at the same time.
In addition, many people suffering from migraine headaches and depression would do well to eat healthy foods, include minimal exercise, and take daily doses of vitamins and supplements.
Examples of recommended supplements include butterbur (PA-free), magnesium, coenzyme Q10, and riboflavin (vitamin B2).
Please tell us…
- Do you agree that women with migraines are 40% more likely to suffer depression, or do you think that number might actually be higher?
- Please share your experiences in coping with migraine disorder.
- We welcome your questions and comments!
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Read more about migraines and depression:
Suicide Rate in Migraine Patients- Some Surprising Statistics
Overcoming Social Isolation in Migraine Disorder
Can Anxiety Attacks cause Migraines?
Migraines Linked to Depression
Migraines Linked to Depression in Women
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