Decreased openness to experience is associated with migraine-type headaches in subjects with lifetime depression

Mate Magyar, Xenia Gonda, Dorottya Pap, Andrea Edes, Attila Galambos, Daniel Baksa, Natalia Kocsel, Edina Szabo, Gyorgy Bagdy, Rebecca Elliott, Gyongyi Kokonyei, Gabriella Juhasz

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Introduction: Migraine and depression frequently occur as comorbid conditions, and it has been hypothesized that migraine with and without depression may have a different genetic background. A distinct personality trait constellation has been described in migraineurs. Less attention, however, was paid to personality differences in migraineurs with and without depression which may also shed light on differences in the neurobiological, background. The aim of our study was to investigate big five personality traits, headaches, and lifetime depression (DEP) in a large European general population sample. Methods: Relationship between DEP, Big Five Inventory personality traits, and headaches identified by the ID-Migraine Questionnaire were investigated in 3,026 individuals from Budapest and Manchester with multivariate and logistic regression analyses. Results: Both DEP and migraine(ID) showed differences in personality traits. Neuroticism was an independent risk factor for both conditions while a significant interaction effect appeared between the two in the case of openness. Namely, subjects with migraine(ID) and without DEP scored higher on openness compared to those who had depression. Conclusion: While we confirmed previous results that high neuroticism is a risk factor for both depression and migraine, openness to experience was significantly lower in the co-occurrence of migraine and depression. Our results suggest that increased openness, possibly manifested in optimal or advantageous cognitive processing of pain experience in migraine may decrease the risk of co-occurrence of depression and migraine and thus may provide valuable insight for newer prevention and intervention approaches in the treatment of these conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number270
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Issue numberJUN
Early online date22 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Extraversion
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Migraine
  • Neuroticism
  • Openness
  • Personality traits


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