Comorbidity of migraine and psychiatric disorders--a national population-based study

Headache. 2008 Apr;48(4):501-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2007.00993.x. Epub 2007 Dec 7.


Background: Migraine is common, with an estimated lifetime prevalence of 7-17%. Population-based studies have reported an association between various psychiatric conditions and migraine. This is a population-based study exploring the association between migraine and psychiatric disorders in a large cohort and assessing various health-related outcomes.

Objective: (1) Determine the prevalence of various psychiatric conditions in association with migraine; (2) describe the patterns of association of these comorbidities with a variety of health-related outcomes.

Methods: Data from the 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey were used. This is a national health survey which included administration of the World Mental Health Composite International Diagnostic Interview to a sample of 36,984 subjects. Health-related outcomes included 2-week disability, restriction of activities, quality-of-life, and mental health care utilization.

Results: The prevalence of physician-diagnosed migraine (n=36,984) was 15.2% for females and 6.1% for males. Migraine was most common in those between ages 25 and 44 years and in those of lower income. Migraine was associated with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, and social phobia, all occurring more than twice as often in those with migraines compared with those without. Migraine was not associated with drug, alcohol, or substance dependence. The higher prevalence of psychiatric disorders in migraineurs was not related to sociodemographic variables. Psychiatric disorders were less common in those over 65 years, in those who were in a relationship, and in those of higher income whether migraine was present or not. Health-related outcomes were worst in those with both migraines and a psychiatric disorder and intermediate in those with either condition alone.

Conclusion: Migraine is associated with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, and social phobia. Migraine in association with various mental health disorders results in poorer health-related outcomes compared with migraine or a psychiatric condition alone. Understanding the psychiatric correlates of migraine is important in order to adequately manage this patient population and to guide public health policies regarding health services utilization and health-care costs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life