Migraine Disease and Bipolar Disorder, a Link

by Teri Robert, Lead Expert

What are comorbid conditions?

With any disease or disorder, it's not uncommon for them to be associated with other comorbid conditions. Comorbid conditions are conditions that occur together, but neither causes the other. There may or may not be an understood physiological link between the conditions, but that's not the same as one causing the other.

Migraine disease and depression

It has been established that Migraine disease and major depressive disorder (clinical depression) are frequently comorbid. A study published in 2000 demonstrated that while depression affects 17% of the general population, it affects 47% of Migraineurs.1 Dr. Richard Lipton stated,

    "It seems logical Migraine patients would be depressed because of their pain, but it goes the other way too -- depressed patients are more likely to have Migraine... We think the two disorders must have a common neurobiology."

On studies linking Migraine and Depression, Dr. Stephen Silberstein commented,

"...really tell us that Migraine is a double whammy. They tell us that Migraine is really devastating, and that the conditions associated with Migraine are devastating."

Migraine disease and bipolar disorder

a 2003 study

More recent studies have now shown Migraine disease seems to be comorbid to bipolar disorder. A 2003 study showed that the prevalence of Migraine disease among patients with bipolar disorder was high enough for the researchers to conclude,

    "Bipolar disorder with migraine is associated with differences in the clinical course of bipolar disorder, and may represent a subtype of bipolar disorder."2

In that study,

  • 108 patients were enrolled and evaluated.
  • Prevalence of Migraine in patients with bipolar disorder was 39.8% - 43.8% among women, 31.4% among men. The prevalence in the general population is 12% - 18% of women, 6-8% of men.
  • Prevalence of Migraine in patients with bipolar II disorder, was 64.7% - 75% of women, 40% of men. (see graph below)

a 2006 study

A 2006 study based on the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), provided someMigraine different prevalence statistics, but still showed a clear comorbidity and elicited this conclusion from the authors,

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