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Migraine and Other Disorders Linked to Increased Risk of Suicide

Migraine is linked to an increased risk of suicide and other self-inflicted injuries, according to researchers at Oxford University in England.

While certain psychiatric illnesses, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, increase the risk by five times of self-harm, common physical illnesses also elevate the risk. In a recent study, patients with epilepsy were about three times more likely to intentionally harm themselves, while people who have migraine or asthma were nearly twice as likely to do so. The study indicates that the skin disorders psoriasis and eczema also carry an increased association, as do inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

The associated risk was significantly lower for cancer, congenital heart disease, ulcerative colitis, sickle cell anemia, and Down’s syndrome.

“It is important for physicians, general practitioners, and mental health workers to be aware of the physical disorders that are associated with an increased risk of self-harm so that at-risk individuals may be better identified and can be monitored for any psychiatric symptoms and mental distress,” the authors said.

The study was retrospective and relied on data from the National Health Service hospitals in England (1999 through 2011). Researchers compared information from individuals with selected psychiatric and physical conditions with information on patients admitted for a variety of other conditions. The authors, led by Arvind Singhal, PhD, and Jack Ross of Oxford University, called for a greater integration of medical and mental health services.

Their results were published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

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