Morning headaches are a common sign of depression and anxiety, research finds.
People naturally assume that morning headaches are related to poor sleep.
While they often are, poor sleep is not the only cause.
The survey of 18,980 people found that the most significant factors linked to chronic morning headaches were anxiety and depression problems.
Dr Maurice M. Ohayon, the study’s author, said:
“Morning headache affects one individual in 13 in the general population.
Chronic morning headaches are a good indicator of major depressive disorders and insomnia disorders.
Contrary to what was previously suggested, however, they are not specific to sleep-related breathing disorder.”
Depression, anxiety and poor sleep were not the only predictors of morning headaches, though.
Dr Ohayon writes that drinking, high blood pressure and various sleep disorders were also linked to morning headaches:
“We also found a positive association between heavy drinking—at least 6 alcoholic drinks per day—and morning headaches, and between the use of an anxiolytic medication and morning headaches.
Subjects using these psychoactive substances were twice as likely to report morning headaches.[…]
Among organic disorders, we found that subjects with hypertension or musculoskeletal diseases had a higher risk of reporting morning headaches.
Changes in blood pressure are likely to cause headaches.[…]
Among sleep disorders, dyssomnia not otherwise specified, which included restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, and sleep disorders with multiple possible causes, had the highest association with morning headaches.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine (Ohayon et al., 2004).