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Migraines and Depression Among Women: Is There a Link?

Migraines are quite a common condition. In fact, one out of ten Americans suffer from this chronic and sometimes debilitating condition. In a 14-year study done on women who experience or have experienced migraines in the past, it shows that there is actually a link between migraines and depression in women. The results of this research, which was released in February 2012, was presented in New Orleans at American Academy of Neurology’s 64th Annual Meeting that April.

How the Study Was Done

The results in this research came from over 36,000 women who shared their information and history of migraines with the Women’s Health Study. Of that number, roughly 3,600 of them are suffering from migraines or have suffered from migraines in the past. The women who participated in this study were classified into four groups: those who have experienced migraines in the past, those who are actively experiencing migraines with aura, those who are actively experiencing migraines without aura, and finally, those who have no problems with migraines at all. All of the women who gave their information did not have depression when the study began. Throughout the past 14 years, these women went through follow up check-ups and gave information not just about migraines, but about any diagnosis of depression that may have occurred during the course of the study.

What the Study Revealed

The data revealed that almost 4,000 of these women who are actively experiencing migraines with or without aura and those with a history of this condition were eventually diagnosed with depression. This development shows that women who have had some sort of battle with migraines whether in the past or present have a higher risk of going into a state of depression than those who have never experienced a migraine in their life. Despite uncovering the link between migraines and depression in women, there is still no explanation why this is. Some experts theorize that a drop in estrogen level which can trigger a migraine can also cause depression; however, most of those involved in the study see no clear explanation for this apparent link between the two conditions.

Depression is a condition which can be prevented and this new piece of information can help lower the number of depression cases in women in the future. With this new information coming to light, doctors are encouraged to discuss the risk of depression with their migraine patients, especially females. By informing migraine patients about the risk of depression and helping them with possible ways to prevent this from happening, the number of patients with depression may gradually decrease in the future.

Migraines can happen to anyone. Men and even children have been known to suffer from different forms of migraines; however, more women are afflicted with this condition than any other demographic. In fact, three-fourths of migraine sufferers in the US are women. Although no studies have been done to see if there is a link between migraines and depression in men, there are no solid findings in the study that says that this risk is only exclusive to women.

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