Light Sensitivity Many migraineurs suffer from light and sound sensitivity, and researchers recently determined they have heightened connectivity between specific areas of the brain. This finding may help in the development of migraine treatments, said lead author Amy R. Tso, MD, of the University of California at San Francisco. In a study of 15 patients with migraine without aura, researchers used a functional MRI to evaluate the areas of the brain involved in processing visual and auditory information. They found that there was increased connectivity between primary visual and auditory cortices, where visual and auditory information is processed; the pons, which serves as a communication center in the brain; and the anterior insula, a region involved in coordinating responses to matters of emotional importance.

Q. I have had migraines for approximately 20 years. I have bad months in which I have 6-10 days of headaches. The last month has been better since I started on Topamax for migraine prevention. However, I am feeling anxious and wondering if there is an anti-anxiety medication that is recommended. What are your thoughts about BuSpar and Paxil?

  googleThe recent recession in the United States impacted individuals’ well-being as well as their finances, according to a recent study. Health-related Google inquiries, particularly for stress-related ailments, spiked between December, 2008, and December, 2011 — the period frequently described as the Great Recession. Researchers say that during that time, online searches for information on stomach ulcers increased by 228 percent, and headache inquiries followed closely with a 193% increase, translating to an excess of 1.48 and 1.52 million searches for those two ailments alone. Among the top 100 health complaints that were searched, there were more than 200 million queries about health concerns than would be expected. The numbers remained high, ranking considerably above the pre-recession threshold as the economy improved toward the end of 2011.

Physical and mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety, often afflict migraineurs, with current research indicating that panic disorder (PD) is the anxiety disorder most often associated with migraine. In a review article in the January issue of the journal Headache, Todd Smitherman, PhD, FAHS, from the University of Mississippi, and colleagues explored PD, migraine and the connection between the two to better understand assessment and treatment of affected patients.

Treating migraine brings multiple benefits to migraineurs, including improvement of psychological and social problems that frequently accompany the disorder, new research indicates. In a review of studies published between 2000 and 2010, researchers found that among migraineurs with and without aura, the most common psychosocial difficulties (PSDs) included: fatigue; emotional problems, especially depression and anxiety; difficulties at work, such as decreased efficiency and absences; problematic social functioning and global disability, which encompasses all the psychosocial problems a person experiences because of migraine. 

People who experience migraine and other severe headaches are four times more likely to commit suicide than people who do not have a headache disorder, a new study has found. Previous studies have shown a link between migraine and suicide, and to further understand this connection, researchers at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine studied roughly 1,200 people ages 25 to 55 over two years. Nearly 500 people had migraine, 151 experienced severe headaches and 539 had no history of severe headache.

Evidence continues to mount about a link between migraine with aura and cardiovascular disease. Two new studies reported in BMJ (British Medical Journal) found an increased risk for earlier death from any cause, including heart disease and stroke. Researchers were quick to note, however, that the increased risk is still low and should not be cause for anxiety.

A notable number of New York City area residents began suffering from headaches after the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. A study of patients enrolled at the Bellevue Hospital World Trade Environmental Health Center found that 44% experienced new persistent headaches after 9/11 trauma.

People with chronic headache have a high prevalence of insomnia and other sleep disorders, such as daytime sleepiness and snoring, according to a study published in the journal Headache. The incidence of insomnia is so high—almost 68% as compared to 39% of people with occasional headaches—that it may even be a risk factor for developing chronic headache. Meanwhile, a separate study, presented at the American Headache Society meeting, has uncovered a possible biological reason for the link.