Migraine is an extremely common disorder. The underlying mechanisms of this chronic illness interspersed with acute symptoms appear to be increasingly complex. An important aspect of migraine heterogeneity is comorbidity with other neurological diseases, cardiovascular disorders, and psychiatric illnesses. Depressive disorders are among the leading causes of disability worldwide according to WHO estimation. In this review, we have mainly considered the findings from general population studies and studies on clinical samples, in adults and children, focusing on the association between migraine and psychiatric disorders (axis I of the DSM), carried over after the first classification of IHS (1988). Though not easily comparable due to differences in methodology to reach diagnosis, general population studies generally indicate an increased risk of affective and anxiety disorders in patients with migraine, compared to non-migrainous subjects. There would also be a trend towards an association of migraine with bipolar disorder, but not with substance abuse/dependence. With respect to migraine subtypes, comorbidity mainly involves migraine with aura. Patients suffering from migraine, however, show a decreased risk of developing affective and anxiety disorders compared to patients with daily chronic headache. It would also appear that psychiatric disorders prevail in patients with chronic headache and substance use than in patients with simple migraine. The mechanisms underlying migraine psychiatric comorbidity are presently poorly understood, but this topic remains a priority for future research. Psychiatric comorbidity indeed affects migraine evolution, may lead to chronic substance use, and may change treatment strategies, eventually modifying the outcome of this important disorder.
© The Author(s) 2011. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com