Fibromyalgia Worsens Depression and Migraine Symptoms, Study Shows

Fibromyalgia Worsens Depression and Migraine Symptoms, Study Shows

Patients with fibromyalgia are more likely to develop worse symptoms of depression, migraine intensity and migraine-related disability.

The study with that finding, “Fibromyalgia in migraine: a retrospective cohort study,” was published in The Journal of Headache and Pain.

Migraine is a common debilitating disorder in patients with fibromyalgia, affecting about 18 to 35 percent of patients. When both fibromyalgia and migraine are present, it can intensify patients’ disability and  affect their quality of life.

Researchers already had found that patients with high frequency of chronic migraine had worse fibromyalgia symptoms and were more likely to have this condition than those with tension headaches.

Building on these findings, a team from the Mayo Clinic Rochester in Minnesota investigated if patients with both fibromyalgia and migraines experience more depressive symptoms, headache-related disability, or higher headache intensity, than patients with migraine only.

A total of 157 individuals with both comorbidities and 471 controls with just migraine were enrolled in the study, between 2012 and 2017.

Using data prospectively collected from a headache database, both groups were analyzed in terms of participants’ body mass index, average duration of migraine, number of headache days per month before the initial visit, age of first headache, and number of individuals with 15 or more headache days in the past month.

Researchers saw no differences regarding these characteristics among patients of either group.

The team also analyzed patients in terms of migraine disability using the migraine disability assessment scale (MIDAS), and depression using the patient healthcare questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9).

Patients with both fibromyalgia and migraine had higher PHQ-9 scores, meaning more days with depressive symptoms, and were more likely to score in a higher severity category of those same symptoms than the patients without fibromyalgia.

This group also demonstrated higher chances of developing more intense migraines than their counterparts.

Regarding the MIDAS questionnaire, which inquired about days a participant missed or had reduced productivity in its daily tasks, total scores among the two groups had no differences.

However, a more detailed analysis on disability severity showed that more patients with both comorbidities scored a higher grade of migraine-related disability.

The findings of this study help researchers understand the close relationship between fibromyalgia and migraine.

“The presence of fibromyalgia has been correlated with lower quality of life in patients with migraine, making it important to know when to screen for symptoms of fibromyalgia in the migraine population,” the team said.

“Our findings suggest that it is important to inquire about comorbid fibromyalgia as this needs to be taken into consideration with regards to creating an optimal individualized treatment plan.”

Based on this study, the team recommends screening for symptoms of fibromyalgia in migraine patients when they report a number of depressive symptoms, severe headache intensity or severe headache-related disability.