Migraine & Depression

Migraines and Depression: Two Peas in a Pod?


From a clinical standpoint, it appears that people who have migraines are more likely to experience symptoms of depression – particularly those who have migraines with aura. A previous study also showed that people who are depressed have a 2.2 times increased risk of having migraine headaches. Interestingly, both conditions benefit from the use of antidepressants which shows they share similarities when it comes to brain biochemistry.



Depression and Migraine Headaches: The Bottom Line?


What does this mean for migraine sufferers? If you experience migraines, particularly migraines with aura, you may be more prone to experiencing depression. If you experience symptoms of depression, it’s important to let your doctor know since this may change the treatment chosen to treat your migraine headaches. Knowing that you’re at a higher risk of depression because of migraines means you can take measures to eat a healthier diet by adding in some omega-3 fatty acids – which may be helpful for depression – and getting daily exercise to increase endorphins, the natural anti-stress hormones released during strenuous exercise. Talk to your doctor about your options.

Researchers questioned more than 2600 people and did telephone interviews to identify those with migraine headaches as well as those with symptoms of depression. They found that 21% of migraine sufferers also suffered from depression. The people most likely to suffer from depression were those who experienced migraine headaches with aura where a person with a migraine experiences visual and neurological symptoms such as numbness on one side of the body or seeing flashing lights. A whopping 32% of those who experienced migraines with aura also experienced depression.  Home 



Depression and Migraine Headaches: Linked By Genetics?


They also found a shared genetic component between the two disorders. They found that the heritability of migraine headaches was 56%, while that of migraines with aura was an impressive 96%. They also found a shared genetic component that was most pronounced in those having migraines with aura. Researchers are hoping that this information will help them better understand both depression and migraine headaches. This may allow them to fine tune their treatment by looking more closely at the genes that cause them.