Migraines May Lead to Higher Depression Risk

You know, this should be filed under the “Captain Obvious” category because anytime someone is experiencing pain, whether it is the head or somewhere else, they aren’t happy and being that migraines can be devastating, it isn’t at all a surprise that there would be higher percentage of people that would experience depression than those that don’t have these horrible headaches. But yet to prove and quantify that theory, a study was done and what they found out is what we would expect.


First of all, a migraine is not just a headache, it’s an event that can have detrimental effects on a person’s mental health, especially if they are happening often, rather than infrequently. A typical migraine can last anywhere between 4-72 hours and are often accompanied by flashing lights, or blind spots. In the lead up to a migraine, patients may also experience things like tingling in the arms and legs (like one’s limbs falling asleep), nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and even diarrhea in some cases. The occurrence rate can range from several times a week to once or twice a year, which probably is not as life changing as the former.

Using data from the Canadian National Population Health Study, the University of Calgary reported that the connection between major depression episodes (MDE) and migraines would seem to be a two way street with 40% of those that have MDEs developing migraines and those with migraines having a 60% chance of getting MDEs. But from a causal point of view, while it’s obvious how the stress of pain and its effects could lead to depression, it’s not clear how depression would lead specifically to migraines, making it difficult for them to clarify the mental health problem as a direct cause. More study would most likely be needed to make that sort of assertion, which was beyond the scope of their research.

The findings, at the very least, indicate that patients that suffer from migraines should learn about the symptoms of depression, so that should they find themselves sinking into the abyss of the disease, instead allowing them to recognize the issue and seek help. The same is true the other way around as well, so that people don’t mistake a migraine for just another of the painful symptoms of depression. Knowing both sides of the coin can lead to lots of different aids in keeping both at bay and making life more bearable for those truly suffering.