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Migraine Headaches, Depression and Anxiety

Currently, the scientific community isn’t sure of the relationship, but what is known is that depression and anxiety with migraine headaches is a common occurrence. Patients with migraines are 2 to 5 times more likely to be depressed and suffer from anxiety than patients who do not have migraines. Approximately 25% of migraine patients suffer from depression with about 50% having anxiety. Some migraine patients begin developing signs of depression and anxiety after they’ve lived with the pain of migraines for some time. Others suffer with anxiety and depression prior to developing migraine headaches.

Scientists believe that patients who experience depression and anxiety with migraine headaches all have certain problems in common. One problem has to do with how the brain transmits messages between neurons. Each brain uses the chemical hormone serotonin as a messenger. Changes in hormones in both men and women can affect depression. Hormone changes in most women are important factors in migraine headaches. People who suffer from migraines along with depression and anxiety seem to be more sensitive to any changes occurring within their body and in their environment as well.

People who suffer from chronic migraine headaches are more commonly depressed and anxious as well. A chronic migraine sufferer will have attacks of migraine headaches 15 days out of every month. For those who suffer headaches less frequently, having depression and/or anxiety raises their risk of increasing the frequency of their headaches over a period of time. Signs of anxiety and depression with migraine headaches can also have an impact on other aspects of life. It has been shown that migraine patients who also suffer from depression and/or anxiety accrue more medical bills. Their risk of suicide is greater. Their disabilities are more extreme than migraine patients that are not depressed and/or anxious.

What is critically important is that headache treatments are not as effective in relieving the pain when the patient is not receiving treatment for depression and/or anxiety. Patients suffering from depression and anxiety with migraine headaches who are not being treated for their mood disorders are less prone to following their medical or behavioral treatment plans. They do not respond as well to their headache medications and therefore are more prone to relapse. This is why it is vital to implement the optimal treatment plan for depression and anxiety with migraine headaches.

Warning Signs Involving Thoughts and Feelings

Medical conditions associated with depression and anxiety and be difficult to identify. Any treatment for depression and/or anxiety first begins with recognizing the symptoms. This isn’t always easy because they both manifest as physical symptoms. They even share some of the same symptoms as a migraine headache. For example, sleep problems, changes in appetite, irritability, trouble with focus and concentration, lack of energy, dizziness and lightheadedness are all symptoms that occur with migraine headaches, depression and/or anxiety.

Because of this, it is important that one pay attention to their thoughts and feelings to figure out the difference. People suffering from generalized anxiety disorder have days filled with extreme worry and tension. They actually believe disaster is imminent and tend to be overly consumed with their health, family problems, money issues or problems at work. Just thinking about what the day will bring and getting through it causes anxiety. With depression there are strong feelings of hopelessness and/or sadness. These feelings often last for 2 weeks or more.

Some patients suffering from migraine headaches, on the other hand, do not feel down, hopeless or sad. These individuals may not be as interested as they normally would be in participating in activities that they usually enjoy. Other migraine patients feel guilty about their non-participation, have a sense of being worthless and may even contemplate suicide.