New research has found that a history of migraines is associated with peripartum depression and anxiety in mid-pregnancy and late pregnancy. The study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders from Uppsala University in Sweden examined pregnant women who suffered chronic migraines before pregnancy.
For the study, researchers surveyed a sample of 4,831 women about their history of migraines before pregnancy. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale was completed at gestational weeks 17 and 32 and postpartum week 6. The relationship between migraine and symptoms of anxiety, depression, and mixed depression and anxiety were examined.
It was found that migraines are heavily associated with separate and mixed symptoms of depression and anxiety. More specifically, migraine was associated with anxiety at week 17 and with mixed depression and anxiety at week 32. After adjusting for other factors, no other associations with migraines were statistically significant.
“Our results suggest that different pathophysiological mechanisms may be responsible for the association between migraine and depression and/or anxiety at different time points throughout the peripartum period,” said lead author Nike Zoe Welander. “Future studies are needed to determine which mechanisms are responsible for these differences.”
Chronic migraine is a disabling neurologic condition that affects 3-5% of the general population. Migraine symptoms can include severe pain in one side of the head or both, a throbbing or pounding sensation, light or sound sensitivity, and nausea or vomiting.
Some people may only experience one migraine in their lifetime, while others suffer from chronic migraine. Chronic migraine is when someone suffers more than 15 migraine days per month.
Peripartum depression refers to depression occurring during pregnancy or after childbirth. It is a serious but treatable condition that can involve feelings of extreme sadness, indifference, and anxiety. It can also come with changes in sleep, energy, and appetite, which carries a risk for both mother and child.
Pregnancy and the period after can be a particularly vulnerable time for women, and this new study helps to outline one possible cause. Women who suffer migraines before pregnancy may be more susceptible to feelings of depression from mid-pregnancy onward.
This study helps physicians to understand the relationship between migraines and depression during and after pregnancy. Those who have chronic migraines before pregnancy can be more closely monitored for signs of peripartum depression.
More research is needed to confirm whether treating migraine headaches can prevent depression and anxiety in pregnant women. There are currently no cures for migraines, but some lifestyle changes can help reduce symptoms, such as diet changes and specific exercises. Some medications can also reduce pain and other symptoms associated with migraines.