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Healthline Mental Health

The evidence connecting migraine and mental health

The effects of migraine can be debilitating, often affecting many aspects of daily life. Whether they occur chronically or are episodic, migraine episodes can cause a lot of stress. Stress can also trigger migraine episodes, thereby leading to a vicious cycle that may feel hard to escape from.

The link between migraine and mental health

Migraine and mental health are intimately related. According to a survey of over 6,000 adults, people with migraine are over twice as likelyTrusted Source to report mental ill-health as those without migraine.

Understanding the potential effects of migraine on mental health, and vice versa, is important. Managing one often involves managing both.

In this article, we will examine the relationship between migraine and mental health, as well as some steps a person can take to regain control of their mental well-being.

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are more common in individuals who experience migraine than those who do not. According to experts at the American Migraine Foundation, people with migraine are five times more likely to develop depression than those without migraine.
People with migraine may be at even higher risk of anxiety. A 2017 study found that, compared with those without migraine, individuals with migraine were 25 timesTrusted Source more likely to feel nervous or anxious on a daily basis.
These effects are compounded as the frequency of migraine episodes increases. According to a study in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, people with chronic migraine — which means experiencing headaches on 15 or more days per month — are twice as likely to have depression and anxiety as those who experience less frequent episodes.

Other psychiatric conditions

Migraine is also common among people with bipolar disorder. In a meta-analysisTrusted Source of studies examining the relationship between bipolar disorder and migraine, approximately one-third of those with bipolar disorder I and half of those with bipolar disorder II experienced migraine.

People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may also be at increased risk of migraine. However, it is possible that those with PTSD may also develop persistent post-traumatic headache (PPTH), which is similar to migraine but clinically distinct. People with PPTH may be at increased riskTrusted Source of mental health problems compared with those with migraine.

Cause or Effect?

The cause-and-effect relationship between mental ill-health and migraine is unclear. Does migraine cause mental ill-health, or does mental ill-health cause migraine?
The answer is complicated. StudiesTrusted Source suggest that depression is a strong predictor for the progression from episodic to chronic migraine, but the treatment of migraineTrusted Source does not necessarily improve measures of anxiety or depression.
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