Teens With Migraines at Greater Risk of Suicide

THURSDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- Teens with chronic daily headache, especially those with migraines, are at increased risk for psychiatric disorders, depression and suicide, a Taiwanese study finds.

The researchers defined chronic daily headache as headaches on 15 or more days a month that last for two or more hours a day, for more than three months. Migraine is a type of chronic daily headache.

In this study, published in the May 1 issue of Neurology, the researchers surveyed 7,900 students, aged 12 to 14, and identified 121 teens with chronic daily headaches, who were then screened for psychiatric disorders.

Almost 50 percent of the teens with chronic daily headache had at least one psychiatric disorder: 21 percent had major depression; 19 percent had panic disorder; and 20 percent were considered at high risk of suicide.

"These numbers are much higher than those reported among the general population of teens of the same ages in Taiwan," study author Dr. Shuu-Jiun Wang, of the Taipei Veterans General Hospital and National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine in Taipei, said in a prepared statement.

The study also found that teens with migraine headaches were 3.5 times more likely to have a psychiatric disorder than teens without migraine. Teens with migraine with aura (a warning sensation before a migraine) were even more likely to have psychiatric disorders, including a sixfold greater risk of suicide, than teens without migraine.

While the link between migraine and psychiatric disorders isn't clear, the researchers noted that migraine, depression, and suicidal tendencies are all related to problems with serotonin levels in the brain.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, April 30, 2007

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