Migraines raise risk of suicidal thoughts

accreditation
iStock

People who suffer from migraines are twice as likely to be depressed as others without the debilitating headaches, according to a new study.

And those who experience migraines, particularly people younger than 30, are also more likely to consider suicide, the Canadian researchers said.

Routine screenings and interventions are needed for those migraine sufferers at greatest risk for both depression and suicidal thoughts, the study authors contend.

Lack of adequate treatment

"We are not sure why younger migraineurs have such a high likelihood of depression and suicidal ideation," study co-author Meghan Schrumm, a former graduate student at the University of Toronto, said.

"It may be that younger people with migraines have not yet managed to find adequate treatment or develop coping mechanisms to minimize pain and the impact of this chronic illness on the rest of their lives," Schrumm suggested.

The study, published online recently in the journal Depression Research and Treatment, involved more than 6 000 Canadians who said they had been diagnosed with migraines. The researchers compared them to a much larger group who did not report having migraines.

As in previous studies, migraines were much more common among women, with one in every seven women reporting having migraines, compared with one in every 16 men.

Of study participants, more than 8% of men and 12% of women who experienced migraines also suffered from depression, compared to just above 3% of men and about 6% of women who did not have migraines.

Younger patients more prone to depression

Younger people with migraines were much more likely than older patients to develop symptoms of depression. Women younger than 30 who suffered from migraines had six times the odds of being depressed than adults aged 65 and older. Migraine sufferers who were single or had trouble with daily activities were also at increased risk for depression.

Men and women with migraines were also much more likely than those without the headaches to have seriously considered committing suicide. Although nearly 16% of men and 18% of women with migraines said they thought about taking their own life, about 8% of men and 9% of women who didn't have migraines said the same.

Although the study found associations between having migraines, depression and suicidal thoughts, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

Based on the findings, study lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, chair of the University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, concluded there is a need for routine screening and interventions for depression and suicidal thoughts among young and unmarried people who suffer from migraines as well as those who are limited in their daily activities.

More information

The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about migraines.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Eskom has considered continuous load shedding at Stage 2, instead of introducing it when the power system faces a crunch. What are your thoughts?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I'm all for it - we're going to have power cuts regardless, so we might as well have some stability to better plan our lives
45% - 4237 votes
No thanks! I prefer having periods of no load shedding and we cannot normalise this crisis
55% - 5112 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.93
-1.8%
Rand - Pound
19.45
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
17.37
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.70
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.0%
Gold
1,643.66
0.0%
Silver
18.87
0.0%
Palladium
2,073.00
0.0%
Platinum
858.50
0.0%
Brent Crude
86.15
-5.0%
Top 40
57,110
-3.1%
All Share
63,417
-2.9%
Resource 10
56,319
-7.5%
Industrial 25
78,436
-1.2%
Financial 15
14,142
-1.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE