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Genetics May Be Reason for Relationship between Depression, Migraine

Previous studies into depression and migraine have suggested there is a link between the two disorders. A new study looking at twins may have found a reason for the depression-migraine connection.


The study, published by Twin Research and Human Genetics, examined the co-occurrence of the two disorders in twins and found there may be a genetic reason for the connection. Researchers at Queensland University of Technology and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia, and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, looked at a sample of 5,319 Australian twins.

Researchers found an increase in the likelihood of both migraine and depression in the co-twin of the initial patient. They also found significantly higher estimates with identical twins compared to fraternal twins.

Individuals were separated into two categories. Those with self-reported migraine or classified as having migraine by the ID migraine screener were said to have “broad” migraine. Those with the International Headache Society (IHS) diagnostic criteria for migraine with or without aura were assigned a “narrow” migraine status. Those with depression were also split into “broad” and “narrow” status, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for major depressive disorder and minor depressive disorder.

According to the study, heritability estimates for both disorders increased as the severity of the disorder increased.

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