Anxiety, depression and behavioral problems among adolescents with recurrent headache: the Young-HUNT study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionThe Journal of Headache and Pain. 2014, 15:38 . 10.1186/1129-2377-15-38
Background It is well documented that both anxiety and depression are associated with headache, but there is limited knowledge regarding the relation between recurrent primary headaches and symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as behavioral problems among adolescents. Assessment of co-morbid disorders is important in order to improve the management of adolescents with recurrent headaches. Thus the main purpose of the present study was to assess the relationship of recurrent headache with anxiety and depressive symptoms and behavioral problems in a large population based cross-sectional survey among adolescents in Norway. Methods A cross-sectional, population-based study was conducted in Norway from 1995 to 1997 (Young-HUNT1). In Young-HUNT1, 4872 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years were interviewed about their headache complaints and completed a comprehensive questionnaire that included assessment of symptoms of anxiety and depression and behavioral problems, i.e. conduct and attention difficulties. Results In adjusted multivariate analyses among adolescents aged 12–14 years, recurrent headache was associated with symptoms of anxiety and depression (OR: 2.05, 95% CI: 1.61-2.61, p < 0.001), but not with behavioral problems. A significant association with anxiety and depressive symptoms was evident for all headache categories; i.e. migraine, tension-type headache and non-classifiable headache. Among adolescents aged 15–17 years there was a significant association between recurrent headache and symptoms of anxiety and depression (OR: 1.64, 95% CI: 1.39-1.93, p < 0,001) and attention difficulties (OR: 1.25, 95% CI: 1.09-1.44, p =0.001). For migraine there was a significant association with both anxiety and depressive symptoms and attention difficulties, while tension-type headache was significantly associated only with symptoms of anxiety and depression. Non-classifiable headache was associated with attention difficulties and conduct difficulties, but not with anxiety and depressive symptoms. Headache frequency was significantly associated with increasing symptoms scores for anxiety and depressive symptoms as well as attention difficulties, evident for both age groups. Conclusions The results from the present study indicate that both anxiety and depressive symptoms and behavioral problems are associated with recurrent headache, and should accordingly be considered a part of the clinical assessment of children and adolescents with headache. Identification of these associated factors and addressing them in interventions may improve headache management.