Depression and anxiety in episodic and chronic cluster headache: A pilot study

Matthew S. Robbins, Rachel Bronheim, Richard B. Lipton, Brian M. Grosberg, Sarah Vollbracht, Fred D. Sheftell, Dawn C. Buse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background. In contrast to migraine and tension-type headache, the psychiatric comorbidities of cluster headache (CH) have not been well-studied. Objective. We assessed the presence of depression and anxiety in groups of episodic CH (ECH) and chronic CH (CCH) patients and compared CH patients with and without depression and anxiety. Methods. Sociodemographics, comorbidities, and selected headache features were ascertained from a clinic-based sample in a cross-sectional fashion from January 2007 to July 2010. Active depression and anxiety were assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item (GAD-7) scales. Results. Of 49 CH patients, ECH patients (n = 32) had an earlier age of onset and consumed less caffeine than CCH patients (n = 17). Rates of depression as defined by a PHQ-9 score ge;10 were low in both ECH (6.3%) and in CCH (11.8%) with similar mean PHQ-9 scores (3.1 vs 3.7, P =.69). Rates of anxiety as defined by a GAD-7 score ge;10 were also low in both ECH (15.6%) and CCH (11.8%) with similar mean GAD-7 scores (3.8 vs 3.4, P =.76). ECH patients in and out of active attack periods had similar levels of depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety usually occurred together in ECH and CCH patients. CH patients who were depressed or anxious were more likely to present at a younger age and have attack-related nausea and prodromal symptoms. Depressed CH patients were also more likely to have another pain disorder and had undertaken twice as many prophylactic medication trials. Conclusion. In this clinic-based cross-sectional study, ECH and CCH patients had similarly low rates of depression and anxiety. Rates were lower than those reported for both episodic and chronic migraine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-611
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • anxiety
  • chronic
  • cluster headache
  • comorbidity
  • depression
  • episodic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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