The Relationship of Anger, Depression, and Perceived Disability Among Headache Patients


Paul N. Duckro, Ph.D., School of Medicine, Division of Behavioral Medicine, 1221 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63104



Depression is a common concomitant of headache. Conflict with regard to anger or the expression of anger has also been discussed in terms of its relationships to headache. The direction of the relationship between headaches and depression and/or anger is not clear from available research literature. Thus, the present study proposed to examine the interrelationships among measures of anger expression, depression and self-reported disability in a sample of chronic headache patients. It was predicted that there would be significant correlations between depression and perceived disability, and anger held in and perceived disability. Finally, it was predicted that anger held in would be shown to impact perceived disability by way of its relationship to depression.

Path analysis was employed to investigate the relationships among the variables. Results showed a significant and positive relationship between depression and perceived disability, which supported the first hypothesis. Anger expression was not significantly related to perceived disability. Therefore, the second hypothesis was not supported. Anger-in, however, was strongly and positively related to depression.

Although the causal direction of the relationships cannot be stated with certainty, the suppression of anger appears to be a moderating variable that amplifies the experience of depression among chronic headache patients.