Mental Health, News & Research

Teenagers With Chronic Daily Headache or Migraine Have Greater Suicide Risk

Young teenagers with chronic daily headache, particularly migraine with aura, have a six times greater risk of suicide than teens without headache disorders. This is according to a study in Taipei of 7,900 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 14.

From Medscape (you can get a password from BugMeNot):

“Young adolescents with chronic daily headache (CDH), particularly those who have migraines with aura, are at 6 times greater risk for suicide than their headache-free peers, new research suggests.”

“Individuals with migraine headaches were 3.5 times more likely to have a psychiatric disorder than those without migraine. In addition, the investigators found those who had migraine with aura were at even greater risk for psychiatric disorders and higher suicide risk.”

“Age and sex effects were also associated with increased risk for depressive disorders, but not anxiety disorders. Female subjects were more likely to have major depression than male participants (26% vs 7%). They were also much more likely than their male counterparts to have any type of depressive disorder (37% vs 10%).”

It’s scary news, but as someone who had migraine and chronic daily headache and depression as a teenager, I’m not surprised. If you have a child with a headache disorder or are an adult with one, please take a look at these important notes:

Chronic daily headache is defined as 15 or more headache days per month. Even if your child doesn’t have a headache or migraine every single day, he or she could have chronic daily headache.

While being sad, frustrated or anxious are common emotions for people with chronic illness, they can also be indicators of a psychiatric disorder. Depression or anxiety are real, serious physiological disorders that
many headache sufferers also have
. Psychiatric and headache disorders are often referred to as comorbid conditions.

Headaches and nausea are the most obvious symptoms of migraine, but migraines can also cause many other symptoms. These include mental confusion, trouble understanding and finding words, irritability, hyperactivity, sweating and sighing. Such little-known symptoms can be as debilitating and disturbing as the pain.

Adults with migraine also have a higher risk of suicide than people without
. This graph* is shocking.

If you are feeling suicidal, please call a hotline for help. In the US call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433). If you live anywhere else, check this list of international suicide prevention hotlines.

*The site with the graph is no longer loading. I know it’s a reputable site, so I’m keeping the link in thinking that the site will magically regenerate.

4 thoughts on “Teenagers With Chronic Daily Headache or Migraine Have Greater Suicide Risk”

  1. Thank you for posting this. I am have NOPDH or New Onset Chronic Daily Headaches. I also suffer from migraines and a little bit of depression.

    I have started to write a book (even though I am just a middle schooler) because when I was diagnosed 6 months ago there seemed to be no way of knowing that there were any other people in the world who had what I had.

    Thanks for the blog.

  2. Please help us spread the word about this new forum for Teens and Adults with Migraine.
    Being a daily sufferer can be very lonely, and it was with that in mind that this forum/message board was opened by a Teen migraineur.

    Proud Mom

  3. I just found your blog and I’m really finding it to be comforting and informative. My headache troubles started in middle school with chronic tension headaches, I’ve only had a few migraines but I have allergy and/or sinus related headaches everday. I know how headaches can really interfere with the life I’d like to live, and it’s easy to feel guilty for them but it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Thanks so much for your blog — I look forward to reading more!

    Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad to know that it’s a comfort to you.


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