Migraines are a particularly painful form of headache which is characterised by dizziness, nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound and women are three times more likely than men to get migraines.
Migraine headaches affects about 28 million people in the United States alone.
According to the Taiwanese team adolescents who experience daily headaches, in particular migraines are also at higher risk for other psychiatric disorders, such as depression and panic disorder as well as suicide.
Study author Dr. Shuu-Jiun Wang, from the Taipei Veterans General Hospital and National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine in Taipei, says teenagers with chronic daily headaches should be screened for psychiatric disorders so they can get the treatment and help they need.
The researchers carried out a survey of 7,900 students age 12 to 14 at five middle schools in Taiwan; the survey assessed the suicide risk by using a standardized questionnaire that ranks suicidal thoughts and associated behaviors.
Those who reported frequent headaches were interviewed by a neurologist and their headache type was diagnosed.
A total of 121 teens with chronic daily headaches -15 or more headache days per month lasting for more than three months- were then also screened for psychiatric disorders.
The researchers found that almost 50 percent of those with chronic daily headaches had one or more psychiatric disorder; 21 percent had major depression and 19 percent had panic disorder.
Twenty percent were considered to be at high risk of suicide.
Dr. Wang says the numbers are much higher than those reported among the general population of teenagers of the same ages in Taiwan.
The researchers say those with migraine headaches were 3.5 times more likely to have a psychiatric disorder than those without migraine.
It was also found that those teens whose migraines were preceded by an aura, or a warning sensation were six times more likely to be at high suicide risk and have psychiatric disorders.
The team say it is unclear how underlying mechanisms may link migraine and psychiatric disorders; what is known however is that migraine, depression and the tendency toward suicide are all related to problems with the levels of serotonin in the brain.
The study was supported by grants from the Taiwan National Science Council and the Taipei Veterans General Hospital and is published in the current issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.