Chronic Headaches Leave Women Prone to Depression

MONDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Women who suffer from chronic headaches are at greater risk of depression .

That's the conclusion of a study published in the Jan. 9 issue of Neurology.

It's estimated that 18 million American women are affected by headache.

The new study included 1,032 women at headache clinics in five states. Of these women, 593 reported having fewer than 15 headaches a month, and 439 reported having more than 15 headaches a month. Ninety percent of the participants were diagnosed with migraines.

The women with chronic headache were four times more likely than those with episodic headache to report symptoms of major depression. These chronic headache sufferers were also three times more likely to report symptoms related to headache, such as low energy, trouble sleeping, nausea, dizziness, pain or problems during intercourse, and pain in the stomach, back, arms, legs and joints.

"Painful physical symptoms may provoke or be a manifestation of major depression in women with chronic headache, and depression may heighten pain perception," study author Dr. Gretchen Tietjen of the University of Toledo-Health Science Campus, said in a prepared statement.

The women with a diagnosis of severely disabling migraine had a 32-fold increased risk of major depression if they also reported other severe symptoms.

"Regardless of what's causing the link between migraine and depression, psychiatric disease such as depression complicates headache management and can lead to poorer outcomes for headache management," Tietjen said.

-- Krisha McCoy

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Jan. 9, 2007

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