Background: Previous research has suggested the clinical profile of individuals with bipolar disorder (BD) differs according to the presence or absence of comorbid migraine. We aimed to determine the clinical characteristics that differentiate individuals with BD with and without comorbid migraine in a large, representative, clinically well-characterised UK sample.
Methods: The lifetime clinical characteristics of 1488 individuals with BD (BPI n=1120, BPII n=368) with and without comorbid migraine were compared (n=375 vs. n=1113 respectively).
Results: Individuals with BD and comorbid migraine had a distinctive set of lifetime clinical characteristics. A multivariate model showed that consistent with previous studies those with comorbid migraine were significantly more likely to be female (OR=2.099, p=0.005) and have comorbid panic attacks (OR=1.842, p=0.004). A novel finding was that even after controlling for other differences, the individuals with BD and comorbid migraine were more likely to have a rapid cycling illness course (OR=1.888, p=0.002).
Limitations: Presence of migraine was assessed using self report measures. Cross-sectional study design limits investigations of bidirectional associations between migraine and bipolar disorder.
Conclusions: Comorbid migraine in BD may represent a more homogenous subtype of BD with an unstable rapid cycling course. Identifying individuals with BD and comorbid migraine may be of use in a clinical setting and this subgroup could be the focus of future aetiological studies.
Keywords: Bipolar disorder; Comorbidity; Migraine; Rapid cycling.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.