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Original Research

PBS. 2022; 12(2): 81-90

Autistic Traits and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Patients with Migraine With or Without Aura

Ahmet Sair, Yasan Bilge Sair.


Background: Migraine is one of the most common neurological disorders and often shows comorbidity with psychiatric disorders. Data regarding comorbidity between migraine and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are limited. In addition, although anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are commonly encountered with migraine, and the fact that the OCD and ASD relationship is well established, there are conflicting results concerning the possible relationships between migraine and OCD. The purpose of this study is to understand is there any relationship between ASD, OCD and migraine.
Methods: The study included only females, 40 with migraine and 26 without migraine or any other type of headache syndrome or neurological disorders. The study included people aged between 20 and 61 years of age. Migraineurs were divided into two groups according to the presence/absence of aura. Demographic and clinical variables were recorded. Diagnosis of OCD was made by using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OCS) and OCD severity and content was assessed by the Yale Brown Obsession and Compulsion Scale (YBOCS). Autistic traits were rated by use of the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ).
Results: The YBOCS and AQ total scores were higher in patients with migraine (vs. controls) and those with aura (vs. non-aura); however, in both of these comparisons, the ‘attention switching’ and ‘imagination’ subscales (of the AQ) were found to be similar among the compared groups. Subclinical OCD was significantly more frequent in migraineurs (vs. controls) and those with aura (vs. non-aura). OCD diagnosis was similar among migraineurs and controls, but the aura group had significantly higher frequency of OCD compared to the non-aura group.
Conclusion: According to our results, migraine and the presence of aura in migraineurs appear to be associated with OCD and autistic traits (as measured by the YBOCS and the AQ).

Key words: Migraine, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism spectrum disorder

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