Migraines in Women Linked to Depression, Suicide

October 24, 2013

A population-based Canadian study suggests that young, female migraineurs are at increased risk of suicidal ideation, pointing to a need for their physicians to screen them for depression. The results, published in Depression Research and Treatment, were by researchers from the University of Toronto.

 

A population-based Canadian study suggests that young, female migraineurs are at increased risk of suicidal ideation, pointing to a need for their physicians to screen them for depression. The results, published in Depression Research and Treatment, were by researchers from the University of Toronto.

Data on which the study was based were from the 3.1 Canadian Community Health Survey. Conducted in 2005, it is a nationally representative survey of health determinants, status and health system utilization. Nearly 85% of Canadian households responded to the poll, which involved in-depth interviews and from which two samples totaling nearly 100,000 men and women were drawn for the migraine research.

The Composite International Diagnostic Interview-Short Form (CIDI-SF) was used to measure a major depressive episode in poll respondents, who were also asked about whether they had ever seriously considered suicide and if they had migraine headaches.

Odds of depression were elevated in migraineurs (men: OR = 2.02; 95% CI = 1.70, 2.41; women: OR = 1.89; 95% CI = 1.71, 2.10) as were odds of suicidal ideation (men: OR = 1.70; 85% CI = 1.55, 1.96; women: OR = 1.72; 95% CI = 1.59, 1.86). The trends held true even after adjustment for sociodemographic variables and disability status.

Being young, unmarried, and having more activity limitations increased the likelihood of depression and suicidal ideation in migraineurs of both genders.  In a sample of just female migraineurs, odds of suicide ideation were increased by youth, unmarried status, increasing poverty, and increasing limitations on activities. Having migraines increased the odds of depression in women by 2.17 times compared with women without migraines (95% CI = 1.97, 2.40).

The limitations of the study, the researchers noted, were confirmation of migraines based on self-reported histories of diagnosis by a health professional, lack of differentiation between types of migraines, lack of control for pain or anxiety disorders, and use of cross-sectional data. Nevertheless, they said, the findings add to the literature on gender-specific factors in migraineurs that are linked to depression and suicidal ideation.

 

 

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