Migraines may lead to mental illness


WINNIPEG -- Migraine headaches may lead to onset of mental disorders such as depression, says a study published this month by Manitoba researchers.

Psychiatric researchers at the University of Manitoba analyzed close to 4,200 patient records from a German health database.


They found 35% of people who suffered migraines also suffered from a mental disorder, ranging from depression and anxiety to phobias and substance abuse disorders.

Lead author Greg Ratcliffe said the relationship was even higher among patients who suffered depression -- between 72 and 84% of people who suffered from depression also had migraines prior to the onset of their illness.

The data suggests migraines may lead to the onset of a mental disorder, which in turn may cause more migraines, Ratcliffe said.

Psychiatrists and primary care doctors should screen patients who have migraines for mental disorders to rule out the possibility of co-existing illness, he advised.

Ratcliffe said patients who suffer migraines and mental disorders both have serotonin abnormalities, but further research is needed to determine the exact link between the two.

The study is published in the January-February edition of the journal General Hospital Psychiatry.


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