Depressive symptoms during the different phases of a migraine attack: A prospective diary study

J Affect Disord. 2022 Jan 15;297:502-507. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2021.10.046. Epub 2021 Oct 25.


Background: The relationship between migraine and depression has been thoroughly investigated, indicating a bidirectional comorbidity. The exact temporal relationship between acute depressive symptoms (mood changes) and the various phases of the migraine attack has not yet been examined.

Methods: We performed a prospective diary study in n = 487 participants with migraine. Participants filled out a daily diary on migraine and acute depressive symptoms during a 1-month period. We randomly selected one migraine attack per participant, consisting of six days around an attack, including the interictal, premonitory, ictal, and postdromal phases. Acute depressive symptoms covered five major items from the DSM-5 classification. Primary analysis was performed using a mixed model with post-hoc testing. We also tested whether lifetime depression influenced the presence of acute depressive symptoms.

Results: During a migraine headache day, patients scored higher on acute depressive symptoms than on all other days of the migraine attack (p < 0.001). There were no early warning signs for an upcoming headache attack through acute depressive symptomatology. Migraine patients with lifetime depression scored overall higher during the migraine attack than those without lifetime depression (p < 0.001).

Limitations: Migraine attacks were based on self-reported migraine and one migraine attack per patient was randomly selected.

Conclusion: We now clearly demonstrate that during the migraine headache phase, but not in the prodromal phase, patients report increased depressive symptomatology. No evidence was found for mood changes as an early warning sign for an upcoming migraine attack.

Keywords: Comorbidity; Depression; E-diary; Migraine; Prospective; Remonitory symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Headache
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Mood Disorders
  • Prospective Studies