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Healint, Novartis Use Self-Tracking App to Determine Prevalence of Anxiety, Depression in Migraine

Jaime Rosenberg
Approximately 43% of patients using the Migraine Buddy app reported experiencing anxiety and/or depression during at least 1 migraine attack.
Digital health company Healint and drug maker Novartis have announced joint research pointing to an increase in anxiety and depression with higher migraine frequency among tens of thousands of patients with migraine in the United States.

Patients who suffer from migraine often don’t just suffer from migraine alone. Having migraine or a history of migraine is associated with an increased risk of hypertension, cochlear disorders, lower visual quality of life, and sleep disorders. Previous research has also linked migraine to an increased risk of anxiety and depression.

According to data collected from 43,189 patients using Healint’s Migraine Buddy—the migraine tracking and research platform—approximately 43% experience anxiety and/or depression during at least 1 migraine attack. Nearly 4 in 10 (37%) reported anxiety, which was more commonly reported than depression, which 20% of users reported experiencing.

“Clearly, migraine is a very common condition but unfortunately has been significantly underestimated and often ignored,” said Francois Cadiou, founder and chief executive officer of Healint. He added, “Uncovering just how much migraines affect such a large part of the population can help shed a light on this global burden.”

The data, collected in April, also found that both anxiety and depression increased with an increase in the number of days in a month that the user experienced migraine. Whereas approximately 34% of users with fewer than 4 migraine days reported anxiety or depression, nearly half with 15 or more migraine days per month reported such symptoms.

“Anxiety and depressive moods are often considered as triggers of a migraine attack for people who live with this complex condition,” said Cadiou. “Healint’s unique real-world evidence suggests, however, that anxiety and depression may result from migraine, not the other way around.”

He added that the patient-reported real-world data collected from Migraine Buddy have the potential to guide doctors toward the best treatment choice for each patient.

Pain symptoms and depression are often linked, and reports have suggested shared genetic mechanisms between major depressive disorder (MDD) and migraine. Some studies have gone as far as suggesting that migraine and depression treatment be integrated in order to improve patients’ pain symptoms and health-related quality of life. According to a recent study, nearly half of patients with MDD have comorbid migraine, and these patients have greater severities of depression, anxiety, and pain symptoms.  

Other studies have probed the impact that comorbidities have on depression and pain intensity in patients with migraine. In a recent study, researchers observed that fibromyalgia exacerbates depressive symptoms, migraine intensity, and migraine-related disability.

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