Migraines and depression – those that suffer both may have smaller brains

A new study has revealed that older people who have a history of both migraines and depression may have smaller brains than those with a history of only one or neither of these conditions.

The study, conducted by Larus S. Gudmundsson and colleagues at the National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, Maryland, revealed that compared with people who have one or neither condition, those with both migraines and depression had volumes of grey matter, white matter and total brain volume.

Migraines and depression

Commenting on Medscape Medical News, Dr Gudmundsson said: “When compared with controls, patients who had had both migraine and depression were found to have a reduction in brain size of about 2%. That is equivalent to four and a half years of brain aging.”

“I cannot say if this reduction in brain size would result in cognitive impairment, but a reduction in brain size is not something we want to happen. Our results give us some clue that migraine and depression may have a physical effect on the brain.”

“Our study suggests that people with both migraine and depression may represent a unique group from those with only one of these conditions and may also require different strategies for long-term treatment.”

While the clinical relevance of the findings is as yet unknown, research indicating links between common conditions is valuable in aiding the understanding of the phenomenon of migraines.

They may also help to drive the development of better treatments and diagnostic tools, thereby improving quality of life for people who suffer with recurrent migraines.

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