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Dr. Marc Siegel and Dr. David Samadi weighed in on Fox News Live this morning regarding a recent study that supports a connection between migraines and depression.  He stated, “90% of all headaches we have are migraines. It’s a very good study but we don’t know if it’s the fact that you have migraines that make you depressed… maybe your lifestyle changes, maybe it’s intractable, because you are so bothered by the headaches.  Or is there something that the migraine does to the brain that alters it and makes it more prone to depression?”

“It’s 80% more likely you’re going to get depressed if you have a migraine.  So the message for people out there is be on the lookout for depression if you get migraines,” Dr. Siegel concluded.

Dr. Samadi stated it was just an observational study, not cause and effect, nevertheless useful information.  “If you get migraines, talk to your physician because there could be signs and symptoms of hidden depression.”  The doctor can then discover the depression and treat both the depression and the migraines with medication at the same time he suggested.

Two things should be noted about this morning’s news cast commentary.

First of all 90% of all headaches are not migraines.  There are two types of headaches, primary and secondary.  90% of all headaches are known to be “Primary Headaches,” whose subcategories include tension-type headaches, cluster headaches and migraines, tension –type being the most common.

Primary headaches are merely headaches that are not caused by underlying medical conditions while secondary headaches are the end result of some other medical condition such as inflammatory headaches due to a brain tumor, infection, or trauma.

Secondly, I wanted to suggest that any migraine sufferers considering prescription drug treatment for both their migraines and depression should be aware of a possible danger known as “Seratonin Syndrome” which I’ll explain at the end of this article.

The study referred to by Fox News was a recent Canadian study that concluded that people who get painful migraine headaches may be at a higher risk for developing clinical depression.

According to Reuters Health, Dr. Peter Goadsby, professor of neurology and director of the Headache Center at the University of California, San Francisco, said research linking depression and migraine headaches goes back several decades. He called the study a “useful contribution” to existing research.

Geeta Modgill, lead author of the study and her group gathered data from the Canadian National Population Health Survey, which profiled over 15,000 people and followed up with them every two years between 1994 and 2007.

Overall, about 15 percent of the people in the study experienced depression and about 12 percent experienced migraines throughout the 12 years of the study.

Cases of depression were significantly more common among people who had migraines at the beginning of the study – 22 percent of migraine sufferers got depressed, versus 14.6 percent of those who didn’t have migraines.

That made participants with migraines 80 percent more likely than people without the headaches to develop depression, and the link held up after adjusting for other influences like age and sex.

People with depression were also 40 percent more likely to develop migraines than the non-depressed.  The association disappeared when the data were adjusted for stress and childhood trauma, however.

The study also cannot determine cause and effect for the link seen between depression and migraine.

The research, published in the journal Headache, also implies that the relationship may go both ways, and people with clinical depression could have a higher risk of developing migraines.  The researchers conclude that the finding could have been due to chance.

Despite no evident mechanism, Modgill said, “Something is going on here.”

Migraine and depression sufferers should know the signs of both ailments since each might be at a higher risk for the other condition.


The frequency and intensity of migraines can vary among sufferers but commonly is characterized by

  • a throbbing headache often localized to one side of the head.
  • intense head pain usually gradual in onset, then progressively more painful.
  • sometimes accompanied by a pronounced sensitivity to light and sound or nausea and vomiting.
  • a dull, deep and steady pain or throbbing and pulsating if severe
  • can occur any time of the day, through it often starts in the morning.
  • pain in the temples or behind one eye or ear, although any part of the head can be involved.
  • may be accompanied by a variety of sensory warning signs or symptoms, such as flashes of light, blind spots, temporary loss of vision or tingling in your hand or face (MIGRAINE WITH AURA)
  • pain lasting a few hours or up to one or two days,
  • occurrence varies – once or twice a week, or only once or twice a year.



According to the DSM-IV, a manual used to diagnose mental disorders, depression occurs when you have at least five of the following nine symptoms at the same time:

  • a depressed mood during most of the day, particularly in the morning
  • fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
  • feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
  • impaired concentration, indecisiveness
  • insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
  • markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day
  • recurring thoughts of death or suicide (not just fearing death)
  • a sense of restlessness — known as psychomotor agitation — or being slowed down – retardation
  • significant weight-loss or gain (a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month)


Because of the migraine-depression connection, I wanted to bring up a topic I covered in an earlier MigreLief Blog Post – the danger migraineurs face when attempting to treat both depression and migraine headaches at the same time with prescription drugs.


Migraine sufferers should be aware of the dangers of combining some anti-depressants with prescription migraine medications.  Unfortunately, the mechanism of action of many antidepressants is to increase serotonin (a feel good neurotransmitter) levels in the brain. Triptan drugs like Imitrex, which are used to reduce or end the pain of a migraine attack also work by stimulating serotonin receptors.

This combination of antidepressants and triptan migraine drugs, can lead to too much serotonin in the brain. This is not a good thing and can result in a potentially life-threatening condition known as “serotonin syndrome.”

In some people, just the use of triptans drugs such as Imitrex or Zomig alone can result in unhealthy levels of serotonin, leading to serotonin syndrome. This risk increases substantially if these people are also taking an antidepressant like Pristiq or any other of several antidepressants known either as SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or SNRI (serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors).

The symptoms of “Serotonin Syndrome” are:

Rapid heart rate and high blood pressure
Agitation or restlessness
Dilated pupils
Loss of muscle control or twitching muscles
Heavy sweating
Goose bumps

In severe cases of serotonin syndrome life-threatening symptoms can occur:

High Fever
Irregular heart beat

If you and your physician decide to use this combination of drugs, you must be monitored very closely for any of these signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome.

If your migraines are bad enough, your physician may decide to stop the antidepressant so that you can use the triptan drugs with less risk (though as mentioned above, they alone, in some users can cause serotonin syndrome).

A win-win solution for many migraine sufferers who are also suffering with depression is to consider the nutritional migraine supplement, MigreLief.  There is no additional risk of Serotonin Syndrome when using MigreLief.

To the Best of Health

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.




Hypothermia: Another Life-Threatening Concern for Japan Earthquake Victims



With the tragic events in the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan, the survivors now face the additional threat of a serious nuclear disaster and radiation exposure from the potential reactor meltdown.  But just making it through the day is a challenge with the frigid weather conditions and risks of “Hypothermia.”  Thanks to the Mayo Clinic, here is some valuable information about this potentially life-threatening condition.

Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can make it, resulting in a drop of body temperature from normal of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees centigrade) to below 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees centigrade).

This is most often (but not always) attributed to prolonged exposure to cold weather or immersion in cold water.

Some older people can develop the condition by being exposed to indoor temperatures that are low (say 55-60 degrees) that most younger people could easily tolerate.

Also hypothermia can occur in infants, causing them to become red in color and exhibit very low energy levels.

At these very low body temperatures, organs like the heart, kidneys and nervous system start to lose function.  Untreated, this can lead to organ failure and eventually death.

The symptoms of Hypothermia are:

 Shivering – the body’s way of trying to generate heat
• Shallow and/or quick breathing
• Poor coordination
• Unclear thinking
• Low energy/drowsiness

The goal in hypothermic people is to use methods that will warm the body back up to normal body temperature by:

Avoiding  jarring movements that may trigger cardiac arrest.
Moving the person out of the cold. Move the person to a warm, dry location if possible. If you’re unable to move the person out of the cold, shield him or her from the cold and wind as much as possible.
Removing wet clothing. If the person is wearing wet clothing, remove it. Cut away clothing if necessary to avoid excessive movement.
Covering the person with blankets. Use layers of dry blankets or coats to warm the person. Cover the person’s head, leaving only the face exposed.
Insulating the person’s body from the cold ground. If you’re outside, lay the person on his or her back on a blanket or other warm surface.
Monitoring breathing. A person with severe hypothermia may appear unconscious, with no apparent signs of a pulse or breathing. If the person’s breathing has stopped or appears dangerously low or shallow, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately if you’re trained.
Sharing body heat. To warm the person’s body, remove your clothing and lie next to the person, making skin-to-skin contact. Then cover both of your bodies with blankets.
Providing warm beverages. If the affected person is alert and able to swallow, provide a warm, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage to help warm the body.
Using warm, dry compresses. Use a first-aid warm compress (a plastic fluid-filled bag that warms up when squeezed), or a makeshift compress of warm water in a plastic bottle or a dryer-warmed towel. Apply a compress only to the neck, chest wall or groin. Don’t apply a warm compress to the arms or legs. Heat applied to the arms and legs forces cold blood back toward the heart, lungs and brain, causing the core body temperature to drop. This can be fatal.
Not applying direct heat. Don’t use hot water, a heating pad or a heating lamp to warm the person. The extreme heat can damage the skin or induce cardiac arrest.

If left untreated, hypothermia can result in the following complications and eventually death:

Frostbite, or freezing of body tissues
Gangrene – decay and death of tissue resulting from an interruption in blood flow (possible complication of frostbite)
Chilblains  – damage to nerves and small blood vessels, usually in the hands or feet after prolonged exposure to above-freezing, cold temperatures
Trench foot (immersion foot) – damage to nerves and small blood vessels due to prolonged immersion in water.

Therefore it is important to get medical help as soon as possible.


Health tips provided by Curt Hendrix, M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S and MigreLief

RADIATION, THYROID and IODINE – Protection from Nuclear Radiation Exposure

Radiation Exposure and Risk

When a nuclear event occurs, radioactive iodine is released into the air. Our thyroid glands require and absorb iodine to synthesize thyroid hormone, which amongst other things, circulates in our bodies to govern our metabolism. To prevent our thyroids from absorbing the radioactive iodine in the air, it is recommended to take the supplement Potassium Iodide.  This non-radioactive source of iodine will saturate the thyroid with healthy iodine and prevent the absorption of the radioactive iodine which can destroy the thyroid and/or cause thyroid cancer. The FDA has approved two different forms of KI – tablets and liquid – that people can take by mouth after a nuclear radiation emergency.  Tablets come in two strengths, 130 milligram (mg) and 65 mg.  The tablets are scored so they may be cut into smaller pieces for lower doses. Each milliliter (ml) of the oral liquid solution contains 65 mg of KI. According to the FDA, the following doses are appropriate to take after internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine:

  • Adults should take 130 mg (one 130 mg tablet OR two 65 mg tablets OR two mL of solution).
  • Women who are breastfeeding should take the adult dose of 130 mg.
  • Children between 3 and 18 years of age should take 65 mg (one 65 mg tablet OR 1 mL of solution). Children who are adult size (greater than or equal to 150 pounds) should take the full adult dose, regardless of their age.
  • Infants and children between 1 month and 3 years of age should take 32 mg (½ of a 65 mg tablet OR ½ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing infants and children
  • Newborns from birth to 1 month of age should be given 16 mg (¼ of a 65 mg tablet or ¼ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing newborn infants

The protective effects of a dose of KI is about 24 hours. KI is available without a prescription, and a pharmacist can sell you KI brands that have been approved by the FDA.   The above doses are to be taken daily until radiation levels, as reported by governmental authorities, drop to safe levels.

To the best of health,

Curt Hendrix, B.S. M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S.