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Migraine Linked to Depression, Anxiety and Other Mental Disorders

People with migraine are likely to have mood disorders, like major depression, anxiety and panic attacks. This is according to a new study, which supports findings of previous studies that have also shown the coexistence, or comorbidity, of migraine and these disorders.

From the current study’s press release (emphasis mine):

Mood Disorders, Migraines Might Be Connected

Migraine headaches can precede the onset of mental disorders, according to a growing body of knowledge that includes a new study in the January-February 2009 issue of General Hospital Psychiatry.

Together, migraine and mental disorders cause more impairment than alone,” said lead study author Gregory Ratcliffe. “Patients who have one condition should be assessed for the other so they can be treated holistically. Although it is important to know that both are present, treating one will have an effect on the other.”

Ratcliffe is with the department of psychiatry at the University of Manitoba in Canada. He and his colleagues analyzed data on 4,181 participants in the German National Health Interview and Examination Survey. Migraines were diagnosed by a physician and trained interviewers evaluated participants for mental disorders.

Researchers found that 11 percent of participants had migraines. Participants had a variety of disorders: major depression, general anxiety disorder, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, panic disorder, substance abuse disorders, agoraphobia and simple phobia.

The authors considered two theories that might explain the relationship between migraine and mental disorders. The first theory is that a common factor influences both conditions, such as low activity of enzymes that deactivate certain chemical messages sent to the brain. They also considered a causal relationship: This study and others found that anxiety often precedes migraine, which often precedes depression.

Frederick Taylor, M.D., director of the Park Nicollet Headache Clinic in St. Louis Park, Minn., said that migraine co-morbidities — depression, anxiety and other disorders — affect 83 percent of migraineurs and explain 65 percent of their inability to function in life, more than the pain itself.

My bouts of depression show this is true for me. It is also true for other headache bloggers, like Diana from Somebody Heal Me. How about you?

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Thyroid Scare

My new GP called me last Wednesday afternoon after receiving the results of the thyroid ultrasound, which I had done that morning. My phone had been turned off for a few days and I didn’t turn it on until Friday. So that’s when I got her message that she wanted me to schedule a biopsy for Wednesday afternoon.

I didn’t hear back from her office Friday, but Saturday I got the results for the tests she had done to check for diabetes or a thyroid disorder. They were clear — good news about those diseases, but inconclusive for everything else, including thyroid cancer.

I finally got to talk to her today. Turns out she wanted me to call that afternoon to schedule the biopsy, not have it done that day. It’s not until Feb. 6, but I’m much calmer than I was all weekend. There’s a 95% chance that it won’t be cancerous.

After the biopsy, I’ll see an endocrinologist to look at the results and discuss my remaining endocrine symptoms even though the most obvious diseases have been ruled out. Instead of being worried about having a different disease, I’m hopeful. Severe headache is a symptom of some endocrine-related disorders; maybe this is my “answer.”

My hope feels disrespectful to everyone who struggles with an endocrine disease. And perhaps to myself. Maybe a different diagnosis will cause me more grief than chronic daily headache and migraine.