Newswise — CHICAGO, Feb. 24, 2015 -- A new study published in The Journal of Pain reports an association between a broad range of pre-existing mental disorders and subsequent onset of severe or frequent headaches. The Journal of Pain is the peer-reviewed publication of the American Pain Society,

Several studies have shown that headaches are linked with emotional problems and occur twice as often in persons with depressive/anxiety disorders. However, it is not yet clear if the relationship between emotional problems and headaches is confined to depression and anxiety or includes a broader spectrum of mental illnesses.

A multinational team of researchers evaluated global data from 19 WHO World Mental Health Surveys in different nations involving more than 50,000 subjects. They investigated the association between preexisting mood, anxiety, impulse control and substance use disorders with subsequent onset of frequent or severe headaches.

Results showed that after adjusting for influences of sex, age and mental disorder comorbidity, a broad range of mental disorders increased the likelihood of developing severe and frequent headaches by 40 percent. This supports the hypothesis that people with mental disorders may be more vulnerable to headaches after the mental disorder occurs.

The authors also found that respondents with early-onset preexisting mental disorders (prior to the age of 21) had a 21 percent higher risk for developing headaches than persons with later onset mental disorders.

About the American Pain Society Based in Chicago, the American Pain Society (APS) is a multidisciplinary community that brings together a diverse group of scientists, clinicians and other professionals to increase the knowledge of pain and transform public policy and clinical practice to reduce pain-related suffering. APS is the professional home for investigators involved in all aspects of pain research including basic, translational, clinical and health services research to obtain the support and inspiration they need to flourish professionally. APS strongly advocates expansion of high quality pain research to help advance science to achieve effective and responsible pain relief. For more information on APS, visit