Monday, August 25, 2008

Chronic Headache Sparked by Major life Changes

Major life changes may play a significant role in as many as a quarter of chronic daily headache cases that arise among otherwise healthy adult men and women.

According to Dr. Ann I. Scher, of Uniformed Services University, in Bethesda, Maryland, and her colleagues major life changes among 206 men and women who met criteria for chronic daily headache (180 or more headache days per year). Those people assessed similar reports from 507 men and women with "episodic" headache (2 to 104 headache days per year).

The investigators assessed changes in marital status, work, children's status, or residence; as well as deaths of family or close friends. They also inquired about self-defined "extremely stressful situations," such as ongoing individual illness, financial problems or that of a family member, or an ongoing abusive relationship. Moreover, compared with men and women with episodic headache, men and women with chronic daily headache were more likely to have experienced major life events in the 2-year period prior to the onset of their headache condition. The strongest predictor of chronic daily headache was an ongoing extremely stressful situation.

The researchers noted that a higher proportion of chronic daily headache among people 40 years and older. In this group, Scher said, "a change in work status was related to increased risk for chronic daily headache, while in contrast, those younger than 40 years showed a decreased risk for chronic daily headache after a job change." Moreover, these findings are generally consistent with prior research related to other chronic pain conditions.

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