Migraines and Mental Health
Since May is Mental Health Month, and Migraines and some mental health conditions can be comorbid, this is a good time to review what we know about Migraines and mental health conditions.
First, a bit about Mental Health Month...
Mental Health America started the tradition of celebrating Mental Health Month in 1949. This year's them is "Live Your Live WellSM," and a web site had been created to provide ten research-based, straightforward tools and ways to apply them in everyday life. From relaxation techniques to journaling exercises to simple ways to get better sleep and improve eating habits, the materials offer a wide range of resources to build resiliency and well-being.
Migraines and Mental Health Conditions...
Studies have repeatedly shown that Migraine and some mental health disorders can be comorbid; we can have both at the same time, but neither causes the other.
- Among the general population, 17% have major depressive disorder. Among Migraineurs, that prevalence jumps to 47%.
- In one study, women without bipolar disorder showed a 14.7% prevalence of Migraine; men showed 5.8%. In patients with bipolar disorder, 34.7% of women had Migraine, and 14.9% of men had Migraine.
- Studies have shown that people with both Migraine or chronic daily headache (CDH) are more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that those without Migraine or CDH.
Researchers still don't fully understand the link between these disorders, but they're making progress. Recent research indicated that there may be a genetic link. See Migraine and Depression May Be Linked Genetically for more information on this.
Another issue for Migraineurs is mood swings, depression, anxiety, and other such issues that can occur during a Migraine attack and are symptoms of the Migraine attack itself as opposed to underlying mental health conditions. You can find more detailed information about this in Migraines and Feeling Hopeless – Hang On!
Wrapping It Up...
Mental Health Month is a good time to take stock, a good time to make an appointment with our doctors if we think we may have mental health disorders that aren't being treated. It's also a good time to make an appointment if we're being treated, but the treatment isn't working well.
Some people hesitate to discuss these issues, even with doctors, because they're embarrassed or just don't know how to bring it up. There is no reason to be embarrassed, and there is every reason to bring up the subject and get some help. Your doctor can help determine if you need help developing coping skills for living with Migraines or headaches, or if you may need other therapies or medication. If you experience symptoms only during a Migraine attack, your doctor may be able to help you by changing your Migraine medication.
We don't have to just live with these feelings. If we have a mental health disorder, there are many treatments available today. If we need help with coping skills, that help is available. If the problem is our Migraines causing us to feel depressed, anxious, or even panicked, there is still help. If you're experiencing any of these issues, please, give your doctor a call.
Medical review by John Claude Krusz, PhD, MD.