Migraines in teenagers could be a warning sign of deeper problems

Between five to 10 percent of American children suffer from migraine headaches, and the numbers climb throughout adolescence and young adulthood.

While the exact cause of migraines is not completely understood, doctors think it's a combination of nerve pain and chemicals in the brain that cause blood vessels to become inflamed. Now a new study suggests that these brain changes may be linked to serious psychiatric problems in teenagers.

A large study of nearly 8000 teenagers in Taiwan finds that those who had chronic, daily headaches were more likely to have mental health problems. Almost 50 per ent of the kids with chronic headaches had psychiatric disorder such as depression or anxiety.

Further tests on the children revealed that 20 percent were at high risk
for suicide. Teens who had migraine headaches appeared especially vulnerable - they were three-and-a-half times as likely as other headache sufferers to have a mental health problem.

More research is needed, but according to researchers the brain chemical serotonin might be the underlying link between migraines, depression and suicide risk.

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