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Having Migraines? You Might Be Anxious Or Depressed (or both)

Marilyn Folk BScN medical reviewer
Written by: Research authors
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: April 3, 2019

Migraines Linked To Anxiety, Depression, and Poor Sleep Quality


A study of 588 patients who attended an outpatient headache clinic found that those who experienced anxiety and depression symptoms had more frequent migraines than those who didn’t experience anxiety and depression symptoms. The study also found poor sleep quality, also linked to an increase in migraines, was linked to an increase in anxiety and depression symptoms.

The study’s press release stated:

“The study's investigators noted that factors such as emotional distress and frequency of headache may influence each other through a common pathophysiological mechanism. For example, emotional responses have the potential to alter pain perception and modulation through certain signaling pathways.”

This research isn’t new, but it does corroborate previous research that found similar links with anxiety and depression to poor sleep quality and an increased frequency in migraine headaches (with or without aura).

This study also suggests that frequent migraines could cause an increase in anxiety and depression in migraine patients.

"These findings potentially suggest that adequate medical treatment to decrease headache frequency may reduce the risk of depression and anxiety in migraine patients," said Dr. Fu-Chi Yang, corresponding author of the study and an investigator in the Department of Neurology, Tri-Service General Hospital, National Defense Medical Center, Taiwan.

There are a number of conclusions that can be drawn:
First, if you have frequent migraine headaches, you could have anxiety or depression. Second, frequent migraine headaches could increase the risk of anxiety and depression in migraine patients. And third, poor sleep quality can exacerbate migraines, anxiety, and depression.

The study was published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain.

You can read the research here.

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