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Depressed: Migraine in a Word

Aside from our shared experience of pain, is there anything more pervasive in the migraine community than depression? Being depressed is a huge part of what we are as migraineurs and was often shared by participants in our Migraine in a Word poll as the one word that best described their experience living with migraine.

migraine feeling

Something about our genes makes us as migraineurs very susceptible. But the hard thing is that living with chronic illness and pain also makes us more prone to depression. We get the double whammy. Sometimes the depression and its symptoms make it just as hard to function as the pain, nausea and other neurological symptoms. If you’re dealing with the debilitating effects of both migraine and depression, you’re not alone.

In a 2009 study researchers studied the prevalence of migraine and depression among a community of biologically related people in the Netherlands. By choosing people who live in a uniform environment and who share the same genes, researchers were able to isolate whether it was genetics or environment that made the migraineurs in the family more prone to depression than nonmigraineurs.

Overall they determined migraineurs in this family were 1.4 times more likely than nonmigraineurs to also have depression. Family members who have been diagnosed with migraine with aura were twice as likely as nonmigraineurs to also have depression.

This study is one of the first to use a strict, accurate definition of migraine rather than relying on study participants to self select as migraine sufferers. So while the study found a less pronounced correlation between migraine and depression than previous studies, given their more accurate definition of who could be considered to have migraine, they were pleased to have established any correlation.

We are working on a new section for the website all about mental health issues related to migraine disease. Please hang tight while we work on these articles. Are there particular questions or issues you’d like to see addressed in our new mental health section? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Study: Migraines, Depression Linked by Genes


  • Savta45
    6 months ago

    Yes, I am keenly aware of how much my migraines affect my depression (& no doubt, the reverse, as well.) This is impacting my marriage, which of course, compounds the issues exponentially. PLEASE do whatever you can to address the seriousness of the combination of these conditions. It’s imperative to me & no doubt, countless others in similar situations.
    Thank you.

  • Savta45
    1 year ago

    Ok, here goes. So, yeah, I’m depressed, & I know it. I made a stupid mistake yesterday, again, & my husband was quick to point out just how ungrateful & unappreciative I am, again.
    I can’t confide any of this to anyone else, so, it’s good that I can say it here. Maybe it will help. I’m on the verge of tears, again, & sometimes I think ugly thoughts, because I feel very hopeless, worthless & stuck.
    So, we have some roses in our yard, & there are a couple that I can’t reach without getting up on a raised area. Those roses are on a section of the yard that is about 4 feet higher than the land below it. There’s a name for it, but my head is getting worse & I can’t think of it right now.
    Anyway, I’ve agreed not to go up there, because a few weeks ago I hit my head on something else, & because I’m on 2 different anticoagulants (blood thinners) due to having had many clots, it necessitated a trip (actually 2) to the emergency room, to make sure I wasn’t bleeding inside my skull. So now, he’s worried for me hitting my head. Even though I’ve been in these meds for many years.
    Ok, so, because I’m not supposed to go up there, & the roses needed some dead heading, I asked him to do that. Which he did. And I thanked him for doing. But, then I noticed that he had used some old, dull clippers that I was thinking of throwing out. And I asked him why he used those, because I was concerned that they may have damaged the plants.
    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.Off he goes on how ungrateful I am, how I’m always complaining. Then he brings up a problem from about 2 weeks ago, which involved my being late leaving the house to go to visit my mother. I used to be very bad about being on time, I admit, but worked on it, & hadn’t been in a long time. I blew it this time though, & caught hell for it.
    My Mom, (97 years old) & I were saying, while we were there, how perhaps we should make arrangements for me to stay overnight sometime soon, because, after taking her out to lunch (a late mother’s day & Birthday celebration for me), we had to get going for the ride back home. We live about 2 1/2 hours drive away, so it’s a ways.
    And, due to the migraines, I don’t drive. Maybe I could. At least when I don’t have one, or don’t have one that’s bad. But, I’m anxious about it. Because my headaches can come on & go from 0 to 80 in 5 minutes. During that time, I can get clumsy, & somewhat disoriented. I’m afraid I’m going to make a bad decision. So, I have hardly driven in the past 4 years. Which isn’t good either, because I’m so out of practice. In the meantime, we’ve gotten a new car. I think I’ve driven it 3 times.
    Back to the thing with my Mom & me. Husband had a fit, when we were talking about me staying overnight, saying it was my fault that we didn’t have more time there because I was late ( I was 1/2 hr late), that he was tired of being my “chauffeur”, that he’s not appreciated, & he’s not driving down there anymore. I doubt that he really means that. I’ve learned that he often says stuff when he’s angry that he really doesn’t mean. But, it may take time for him to come around.
    My not driving is one of the worst things about the migraines. It limits me so much, & I feel so controlled. I keep thinking, telling myself, especially at times like these, that I should just do it, just drive. Just get over it, & if I do get a headache or any symptoms, deal with it appropriately then, ie, pull over, call husband or son or ?, I don’t know.
    But, I’m tired of being told how awful I am. I’ve been told I’m lazy, when I haven’t done housework, to the point that he wrote up a chart of what I should be accomplishing. There’s more. He is good to me, most of the time, seems very understanding of my situation. Notice I said seems. I know he thinks he gets it, but I don’t think he does.
    I guess he must be right. That I’m awful. I don’t have anyone else telling me otherwise. But I’m so dependent on him, I’m just stuck. And I hate it. There are other issues, too. Family stuff. And, due to my isolation, I don’t have any friends up here, I have old friends that I keep in contact with on the computer. If it weren’t for my mother, those dark thoughts would have a lot more power over me. And I do have a puppy. He’s a little crazy, but he loves me unconditionally, of course.
    I’m sorry for this long thing. I guess I saw an opportunity & took it.
    It’s unlikely that I’d do anything to hurt myself. I’m fairly religious, & it doesn’t fit with that. But, depressed, yes. Made MUCH worse due to migraine & life changes that migraine has put on me, yes. That’s an undeniable fact.

  • deedeevee1
    2 months ago

    Thanks for sharing. It’s hard sometimes relying on others. I understand that your husband is frustrated, but he also needs to be patient and kind. You’re trying your very best I’m sure. Unfortunately those who don’t get migraines do not get what we’re going through. That’s why we have each other!! I too have had those dark harmful thoughts. I’ve tried several times to end my pain, thankfully I can’t even do that right. Lol. But God intervened. The last time I tried to harm myself I came really close, but I was shown (or hallucinated) what heartache I would leave behind. AND that my soul would carry the pain into the afterlife. It was a blessing and an awakening. Yes we may be suffering, but it can always be worse. We still have the ability to walk, talk, and kiss our children. In my case my fur babies. Anxiety about getting a migraine while driving may be overwhelming, but becoming a prisoner in your home can be also. Please know that you are stronger than you think and braver than you believe. And just because you are ill, that gives no one the right to treat you poorly. Much love to you. Dee

  • Heather R
    8 years ago

    I suffer from Migraines as well as depression. I am also Bi-Polar which compounds the depression I end up feeling when the migraines are bad. I know from personal experience that my depression is 10X’s worse when I have a migraine then when they are not present. I just don’t know how much my being Bi-Polar is causing/effecting my migraines. Is there any relevance between the two? I’m going to a new neurologist in December and I need to remember to bring that concern up as well as with my psychologist.

  • MandaLuu
    8 years ago

    Long term effects of daily preventative meds…Given the side effects we experience (further to Janene’s comments – I’m with you!) including confusion & forgetfulness, what are the risks of lasting impairment?

  • Janene Zielinski
    8 years ago

    Acceptance. Living with the guilt of not feeling like I am “pulling my weight”. Grief of time lost. Some of my meds give me mental health side effects like “manic behaviour” or “racing thoughts” – anxiety. Are those the kind of topics you are thinking of? I feel like I could write a book…

  • Diana Lee
    8 years ago

    Absolutely. Thanks for the ideas!

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