Post-traumatic stress disorder in episodic and chronic migraine

B. Lee Peterlin, Gretchen Tietjen, Sarah Meng, Jeffrey Lidicker, Marcelo Bigal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Objective. - To assess and contrast the relative frequency of self-reported post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in patients with episodic migraine and chronic/ transformed migraine. Background. - Several risk factors have been identified as risk factors for chronification of headache disorders. Childhood abuse has been suggested as a risk factor for chronic pain in adulthood. In addition depression, as well as several other psychiatric disorders, are co-morbid with migraine. Recent data suggest that PTSD may be more common in headache sufferers than in the general population. Methods. - This was a prospective, pilot study conducted at a headache center. Adult subjects with episodic, chronic, or transformed migraine were included. Demographic information, depression history, body mass index (BMI), and headache characteristics were obtained. PTSD was assessed using the life events checklist (LEC) and the PTSD checklist, civilian version (PCL-C). We contrasted the data from episodicmigraineurs and chronic/transformed migraine participants (CM) and conducted multivariate analyses, adjusting for covariates. Results. - Of the 60 participants included, 91.7% were female with a mean age of 41.4 ± 12.5 years old. EM was diagnosed in 53.3% and CM in 46.7%. The mean BMI was not significantly different between groups. In contrast, the relative frequency of depression was significantly greater in subjects with CM (55.2%) than EM (21.9%, P =.016). There was no significant difference in the percentage of participants reporting at least 1 significant traumatic life event (LE) or in the mean number of traumatic LEs between EM and CM participants. However, the relative frequency of PTSD reported on the PCL in CM (42.9%) was significantly greater as compared to EM (9.4%, P =.0059. After adjusting for depression and other potential confounders, the difference remained significant P =.023). Conclusion. - PTSD is more common in CM than in episodic migraineurs. This suggests that PTSD may be a risk factor for headache chronification, pending longitudinal studies to test this hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-522
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Abuse
  • Chronic migraine
  • Migraine
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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