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Management of chronic tension-type headache with antidepressant medicationand stress management.

15 Aug

Management of chronic tension-type headache with tricyclic antidepressant medication, stress management therapy, and their combination: a randomized controlled trial.

Ohio University psychologists Holroyd, O’Donnell, Stensland, Lipchik, Cordingley and Carlson compared the effectiveness of behavioral and pharmacological therapies, singly and combined, for chronic tension headaches. Their randomized, placebo-controlled trial studied 203 adult subjects, who were randomly assigned to receive either a tricyclic antidepressant (Elavil or Pamelor); stress management therapy (relaxation and coping skills) or both together. Placebo groups were used as well.

Patients rated themselves on the frequency, intensity and duration of their headaches; tracked their use of pain medication; and were scored on the Headache Disability Inventory.

The study found that each type of intervention produced greater improvement and more rapid improvement in headache symptoms than the placebos. But combining the 2 kinds of therapies together yielded better results than either one alone.

Citation: Holroyd KA, O'Donnell FJ, Stensland M, Lipchick GL, Cordingley GD, Carlson BW. Management of chronic tension-type headache with tricyclic antidepressant medication, stress management therapy, and their combination: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2001 May 2;285(17):2208-15.
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award