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Migraines Linked to Depression

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Updated: 9/27 3:52 am

Feb. 22, 2012 -- Women who suffer from migraine headaches may be more likely to develop depression.

A new study shows that women who have migraines are about 40% more likely to develop depression than women who have never had migraines.

“This is one of the first large studies to examine the association between migraine and the development of depression over time,” researcher Tobias Kurth, MD, ScD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, says in a news release. “We hope our findings will encourage doctors to speak to their migraine patients about the risk of depression and potential ways to prevent depression.”

The results will be presented in April at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.

Migraine-Depression Link

In the study, researchers looked at the risk of depression among 36,154 women who took part in the Women’s Health Study. None of the women had depression at the start of the study.

The women were divided into four groups: those with active migraine with aura, active migraine without aura, past history of migraine (but not within the past year), and those with no history of migraine. Aura are visual disturbances like flashing lights sometimes associated with migraine headaches.

During about 14 years of follow-up, 3,971 women were diagnosed with depression.

The results showed that women with any history of migraine were 36% more likely to develop depression compared to women with no history of migraine. Women with a past history of migraine were 41% more likely to experience depression.

Researchers say the increased risk of depression associated with migraine was the same whether it was migraine with or without aura.

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