Recurrent and especially chronic headaches are associated with psychiatric comorbidities such as depression and anxiety. Only few studies examined the impact of depression and anxiety on episodic (EH) and chronic headache (CH), and data for Austria are missing at all. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to assess the impact of depression and anxiety on burden and management of EH and CH in patients from eight Austrian headache centres.
We included 392 patients (84.1 % female, mean age 40.4 ± 14.0 years) who completed the Eurolight questionnaire. The treating physician recorded details about ever-before prophylactic medications. We used Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale to assess depression and anxiety and compared patients with anxiety and/or depression to those without.
Depression and anxiety were more common in CH than in EH (64 % vs. 41 %, p < 0.0001). Presence compared to absence of depression and anxiety increased the prevalence of poor or very poor quality of life from 0.7 % to 13.1 % in EH and from 3.6 % to 40.3 % in CH (p = 0.001; p < 0.0001). Depression and anxiety had a statistically significant impact on employment status and on variables related to the burden of headache such as reduced earnings, being less successful in career, or feeling less understood. Neither in EH nor in CH health care use and the ever-before use of prophylactic medication was correlated with anxiety and/or depression.
Depression and anxiety have a significant impact on quality of life and increase the burden in patients with EH and CH. Improved multidimensional treatment approaches are necessary to decrease disability on the personal, social and occupational level in these patients.
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