Headaches and suicide

In a study presented at the recent meeting of the American Psychiatric Association Dr. Stephen Woolley found that adults suffering from severe headaches have a 30% to 50% increased chance of having suicidal thoughts or behaviors, independent of the presence of anxiety or depression. The recommendation for the doctors is to routinely screen patients suffering from severe headaches for suicidality even if they do not suffer from anxiety or depression. Family members and friends should also be aware of this fact and discuss it openly with headache sufferers.

A study published in a recent issue of journal Neurology found that adolescents who suffer from chronic daily headache, particularly if they also had migraine with aura had a six times higher risk of suicide than their headache-free peers. This was a community-based study conducted by Dr. Shuu-Jiun Wang in Taiwan. Almost half of adolescents with headaches had at least one psychiatric disorder. The most common disorders were major depression which was found in 21% and panic disorder in 19%.

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