Migraine linked to increased risk of depression in women

February 22, 2012

New research suggests women who have migraine or have had them in the past are at an increased risk for developing depression compared to women who have never had migraine. The study was released today and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 21 to April 28, 2012.

For the study, researchers classified 36,154 women without depression who were enrolled in the Women's and had provided information about migraine. Women were classified as either having active migraine with aura, active migraine without aura, past history of migraine (but not within the last year) or no history of migraine. Women also provided information about diagnoses of depression.

A total of 6,456 women had current or past migraine. During an average 14 years of follow-up, 3,971 of the women developed depression.

Women with any history of migraine were about 40 percent more likely to develop depression than women without a history of migraine. The results were the same regardless if a woman had migraine with aura, which involves visual disturbances that appear as flashing lights, zigzag lines or a temporary loss of vision.

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

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