Depression More Common in Women with Chronic Headaches

Woman with headache in deep depression

Women suffering chronic headaches, especially migraine, are more likely to be depressed and tired, according to a new study of over a thousand American women.Women with headache attending six headache speciality clinics were classified using ICHD-II criteria and frequency of attack recorded. Of the 1032 women, 593 had episodic headache (96% with migraine) and 439 had chronic headache (87% with migraine)Those suffering chronic headache were four times more likely to have symptoms of major depression than those experiencing episodic attacks. For women with severely disabling migraine, the chance of having major depression increased 32-fold if the patient also had other severe symptoms. In addition, chronic headache sufferers were more likely to have headache-related symptoms, such as tiredness, lack of energy, nausea, insomnia, dizziness and pain in other parts of the body.Tietjen GE, Brandes JL, Digre KB, et al. High prevalence of somatic symptoms and depression in women with disabling chronic headache. Neurology 2007; 68: 134-140.

What the WHA thinks:

  • The link between depression and chronic headache has been previously identified
  • However, it is interesting to note the greater likelihood of depression for those with severely disabling migraine