Personality disorders in cluster headache: a study using the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III

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A great deal of studies suggests that cluster headache (CH) patients are usually comorbid to anxiety-mood spectrum disorders and psychopathological symptoms; however, the personality profiles reported in the literature strictly depend on type of assessment used. Psychiatric comorbidities have been extensively studied in migraine and they are recognized to represent a major risk factor associated with poorer outcome, playing a role in the headache chronification process at once as cause and consequence of it. By contrast the incidence and role of psychopathological aspects in CH is still not clarified, insufficiently explored as the striking severity of such a physical pain apparently leaves no room to psychological explanations. The aim of the present study is to describe psychopathological aspects of CH patients by means of the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III), a psychological assessment tool compatible to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) that correlates personality disorders (PDs) and clinical syndromes. We included all consecutive inward patients with CH between January 2014 and December 2016. Patients were evaluated using the MCMI-III a validated inventory assessing 14 PDs Scales (coordinate with DSM-IV Axis II disorders) and ten Clinical Syndrome Scales (coordinate with DSM-IV Axis I disorders). Twenty-six CH patients (24 chronic CH) were tested. Personality disorders were present in 92% of the patients. The most frequent PDs were: obsessive–compulsive (30.8%), histrionic (26.9%), narcissistic (11.5%), paranoid (11.5%) and avoidant (11.5%). According to the MCMI-III, patients with CH showed a high prevalence of personality disorders (Axis II-DSM-IV). PDs in CH patients can play an important role in determining CH course toward chronification. These preliminary results suggest that behavioral treatments can find room to support more conventional drug and neurostimulation therapies in these patients. In addition, the very high prevalence of PDs in our patients suggests that CH could in some cases be considered among the spectrum of somatoform and pain syndromes in patients with PDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-184
Number of pages4
JournalNeurological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2017


  • Clinical syndromes
  • Cluster headache
  • Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III
  • Personality disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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