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HeadWay, Issue #107 -- Paying attention to Depression
May 30, 2013

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In this month's issue:

Pay attention to Depression

How do I lower my risk?

Say what?!  Depression

Pay attention to Depression

The news hasn't been all that encouraging for those suffering from migraine and depression.  New studies are pushing more people to find solutions.

Depression and migraine are co-morbid conditions, meaning that they often go together.  Although, of course, pain can get you down, the relationship is much more complex than that.  There are biological links between the two conditions.

This month the journal Stroke published a study showing that depression is a significant risk factor when it comes to stroke for middle aged women (in this case 47 to 52).

Since migraine and stroke have long been linked, this study further confirms the web of conditions that tend to go together.

Also this month, the journal Neurology published a study suggesting that migraine and depression may together impact the sufferer's brain volume.

Those with migraine or depression didn't seem to have the same problem, but those with both had total brain tissue volumes about of 19.2 milliliters smaller.

Changes in the brain have, of course, been linked to both conditions before.  And brain volume can both impact how well your body functions, and it is impacted by overall health.  In other words, it can be improved by diet and exercise.

Certainly none of this is good news.  It points to how easily health can spiral downward, with one issue impacting another and another.

Once again, we can direct our own treatment in very important ways.  If you have both migraine and depression - don't ignore either condition.
  • Make sure your doctor is aware of both of these conditions.
  • Remember that brain and heart health are extra important for a migraineur.  Find ways to lower your risk.
  • When you're being treated, note how the drug/supplement/massage/exercise program impact both conditions.  Many things will help both.

How do I lower my risk?

If heart disease and stroke are concerns for those with migraine, what can we do to lower our risk?

Here are a few key things to start thinking about.
  • Exercise:  It doesn't have to be a lot - a few minutes a day of walking is a great start.
  • Alcohol:  If you drink a lot, it can add significantly to your risk.
  • Smoking:  No surprise here.  Cut down and then quitting can lower your risk.
  • Blood pressure:  Start by having a doctor take your blood pressure at a yearly checkup.
  • Diet:  If your family has a history of diabetes, talk to your doctor.  Other than that, you know what to do - are you eating lots of fresh fruit and veggies?
  • Weight:  Talk to your doctor if you're overweight.  Losing a few pounds can make a big difference.
I know, I make it all sound very easy!  But look at it this way - any of these things can lower your risk (most are good for brain volume too!).  Take just one, and make some improvements.  Sure, some people may want to conquer them all at once - but it's better to take small steps than to take no action at all.  Do something about something today.

Say what?!  Depression

Everyone knows what depression is!  Or -- do they?

Depression in common language may include just feeling sad - a normal part of life.  But the point at which depression becomes a medical illness is a matter of controversy.

Today, when depression is a medical condition, we call it clinical depression or major depression.  The Mayo Clinic points out that "More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn't a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply "snap out" of. Depression is a chronic illness that usually requires long-term treatment, like diabetes or high blood pressure."  Depression is usually associated with trouble sleeping, loss of energy, and problems with concentration over the long term.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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