The role of psychological flexibility in migraine headache impact and depression


Sarah Almarzooqi, Joseph Chilcot, and Lance M. McCracken


The objective of this study was to examine the role of psychological flexibility in relation to migraine headache impact and depression. Facets of psychological flexibility including acceptance and committed action appear applicable to headache and yet currently there are limited data examining these processes. In this cross-sectional online survey 199 participants with self-reported migraine completed standardized measures of psychological flexibility (Acceptance and Action Questionnaire, Chronic Pain Acceptance Questionnaire, and the Committed Action Questionnaire) and measures of current functioning, including headache impact (Headache Impact Test) and depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9). Correlation results revealed that three aspects of psychological flexibility (general acceptance, pain acceptance and committed action) were significantly associated with both headache impact and depression symptoms. In regression analysis, psychological flexibility accounted for an additional 33% of the variance in headache impact, above and beyond the effects of age and gender. In these adjusted analysis, pain acceptance was significantly associated with headache impact and both pain acceptance and general acceptance were associated with depression. This study adds to a small number of recent studies showing that aspects of psychological flexibility are associated with positive functioning and wellbeing in people with headache disorders.

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