People with bipolar disorder may be more prone to experiencing other neurological or psychiatric conditions, including migraine. Studies suggest that about
Some studies suggest that more than
People with migraine are also more likely to have bipolar disorder. An estimated
Although the experiences of bipolar disorder and migraine are different, there are many similarities between the two conditions. They are both chronic disorders characterized by recurring episodes of symptoms that can last days at a time. Migraine and bipolar episodes may even be triggered by similar causes, including:
- sleep disturbances
- substance use, including caffeine or alcohol
- weather changes
The exact cause of migraine is unknown, but it is thought to be the result of a variety of genetic, chemical, and structural changes in the brain that make a person more susceptible to headache triggers like those described above.
Many of the potential disease-causing factors in migraine overlap with those believed to contribute to bipolar disorder. Like migraine, bipolar disorder is also thought to have a genetic component.
Inflammation, oxidative stress, and defects in energy-processing mechanisms in the brain are common features of both migraine and bipolar disorder. Certain types of genetic changes, like alterations in genes that regulate
Collectively, experts take these results to mean that bipolar disorder and migraine are caused by similar mechanisms, and that the biological and environmental changes that make a person more susceptible to one condition also make them more likely to develop the other.
Treatment of migraine in people with bipolar disorder requires careful consideration of both conditions. Some of the medications commonly used to treat or prevent migraine, including antidepressants and beta blockers, can lead to mood episodes in bipolar disorder.
Certain types of antidepressants — tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil) or nortriptyline (Pamelor) — can trigger manic episodes, and beta blockers may lead to depressive symptoms.
Some types of medications used for bipolar disorder can also be used to prevent migraine attacks. These include:
- mood stabilizers, such as lithium and lamotrigine
- anticonvulsants, such as topiramate and valproate
- atypical antipsychotics, such as quetiapine
If a person has both migraine and bipolar disorder, disclosing their full medical history to all members of their healthcare team can help ensure that both conditions are effectively managed without compromising other aspects of their health.
People with migraine and bipolar disorder may see multiple healthcare professionals as part of their care plan.
A neurologist that specializes in headache disorders can help provide care for migraine symptoms, and a psychiatrist can help develop a treatment plan to manage symptoms of bipolar disorder. A psychologist or clinical psychotherapist may be involved in treatment for bipolar disorder as well.
Some people with migraine may also benefit from psychotherapy.
It’s important that all members of the care team have a complete understanding of a person’s medical history and care plans to ensure that treatment efforts are synergistic rather than conflicting.
A primary care physician can help coordinate medical care between different specialists and serve as a central contact point for sharing information.
Migraine is common in people with bipolar disorder, caused by an array of overlapping genetic and environmental causes. Triggers for migraine and bipolar disorder are similar, which can lead to distress if episodes are triggered simultaneously.
Some migraine treatments can negatively affect mood in people with bipolar disorder. When developing treatment plans with their physicians, people with bipolar disorder and migraine should be sure that all members of their care team have a complete understanding of their medical history in order to make informed decisions that support their overall health.