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Peer Victimization, Suicidality Linked to Recurrent Headaches in Teens

Overt victimization, suicidality increases risk for frequent headaches

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 3, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Peer victimization and suicidality may be associated with higher headache frequency in adolescents with recurrent headaches, according to a study published online Aug. 2 in Neurology.

Christelle Nilles, M.D., from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, and colleagues examined the association between peer victimization, gender diversity, and frequent recurrent headaches in adolescents. The analysis included 2.3 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 years.

The researchers found that 11.2 percent of participants reported frequent recurrent headaches, which were associated with older age, female sex, and being gender-diverse. Youth with frequent headaches had higher odds of experiencing both overt and relational bullying. Frequent headaches were no longer associated with gender diversity in fully adjusted models. However, in the fully adjusted model, associations persisted between frequent headaches and frequent overt and relational peer victimization, suicidality, and having a mood or anxiety disorder.

“Though gender diverse teens appear to have a higher risk of frequent, recurring headaches, this association disappears after controlling for bullying, anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies, suggesting that perhaps gender diversity is not, in and of itself, related to frequent headaches, but that the psychosocial factors associated with it may explain this link,” coauthor Serena L. Orr, M.D., also of the University of Calgary, said in a statement. “This is important information because these factors are preventable and treatable, and as such, must be examined further.”

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