Headache and major depression: Is the association specific to migraine?
To examine the relationship between migraine and major depression, by estimating the risk for first-onset major depression associated with prior migraine and the risk for first migraine associated with prior major depression. We also examined the extent to which comorbidity with major depression is specific to migraine or is observed in other severe headaches. Representative samples of persons 25 to 55 years of age with migraine or other severe headaches (i.e., disabling headaches without migraine features) and controls with no history of severe headaches were identified by a telephone survey and later interviewed in person to ascertain history of common psychiatric disorders. Lifetime prevalence of major depression was approximately three times higher in persons with migraine and in persons with severe headaches compared with controls. Significant bidirectional relationships were observed between major depression and migraine, with migraine predicting first-onset depression and depression predicting first-onset migraine. In contrast, persons with severe headaches had a higher incidence of first-onset major depression (hazard ratio = 3.6), but major depression did not predict a significantly increased incidence of other severe headaches (hazard ratio = 1.6). The contrasting results regarding the relationship of major depression with migraine versus other severe headaches suggest that different causes may underlie the co-occurrence of major depression in persons with migraine compared with persons with other severe headaches.