According to information from a new study that was published in the May 22, 2013, online issue of Neurology, older people who have a history of migraines and depression may also have smaller brain tissue than those who only have one of those conditions.
“Studies show that people with migraine have double the risk of depression compared to people without migraine,” said study author Larus S. Gudmundsson, PhD, with the National Institute on Aging and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, in Bethesda, Md. Gudmundsson is also a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “We wanted to find out whether having both conditions together possibly affected brain size.”
The study was conducted with researchers analyzing data collected from 4,296 participating patients aged around 51 who were tested for migraines from 1967 to 1991. Researchers then analyzed information on them later between 2002 and 2006 when they were about 76 so that the scientists could search for a depression history. MRIs were also given as a means to weigh the brains. What the scientists found was that 37 of the participating patients had a history of both migraine and depression, while 2,753 had neither condition. Those participants that had both migraine and depression had smaller brain volumes than those that didn’t have neither condition by 19.2 milliliters.
“It is important to note that participants in this study were imaged using MRI once, so we cannot say that migraine and depression resulted in brain atrophy. In future studies, we need to examine at what age participants develop both migraine and depression and measure their brain volume changes over time in order to determine what comes first,” said Gudmundsson.
Conditions like depression are commonly treated with antidepressant medications like Paxil. Paxil is used by millions of people worldwide, but it can cause serious side effects including violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior. The pills have also been proven to cause birth defects in babies whose mothers take the pills while pregnant. Some of the birth control pills linked to Paxil and Effexor include PPHN, oral clefts, neural tube defects and spina bifida. In general, SSRIs like Paxil can often worsen a person’s condition rather than help them, and the price of these medications can be very high when used for long periods of time.