Migraines and chronic tension headaches affect millions of Americans. Typical chronic headache treatment centers around medication, usually by prescription. Many people with migraines take prophylactic, or preventative, medication every day to prevent migraines; they often have another prescription to deal with migraines that occur in spite of preventative medication. Those with chronic tension headaches also tend to take both prophylactic and breakthrough prescription medications.
There are serious health concerns associated with many of the medications used to treat headaches. Prolonged use of NSAIDS can damage the stomach and kidneys. Anti-depressants – both SSRIs and tricyclics – are commonly used to prevent migraines and tension headaches; they can lead to tolerance, requiring increased dosages. There is risk of both physical and psychological withdrawal from these medications. Side effects of antidepressants range from weight gain and loss of libido to suicidal thoughts. Calcium channel blockers and beta blockers are sometimes used to prevent migraines. One of the common side effects of beta blockers is actually headache. They can’t be taken by asthmatics or diabetics as they could trigger severe asthma attacks and hide signs of low blood sugar such as rapid heart beat. Calcium channel blockers may cause digestive problems, rapid heartbeat and drowsiness.
Mind-Body Headache Treatment
In November, 2007, The Family Physician, a peer-reviewed journal, summarized the available research on mind-body therapies for headache treatment. They graded various treatments with an A, indicating consistent evidence in support of effectiveness, or B, indicating inconsistent evidence. For migraines, a number of mind-body therapies received an A rating: cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation and relaxation training.
Cognitive behavioral therapy assesses the patient’s thoughts and beliefs about his or her condition. Patient and therapist work together to identify counterproductive and/or inaccurate attitudes toward pain and correct them, thereby reducing both physical and psychological stress. Biofeedback therapy entails the use of focus to alter bodily processes, such as heart rate or muscle tension. To perform progressive muscle relaxation, the patient consciously tenses and relaxes particular muscles in order to gain awareness of tension and to release it. Relaxation training is generally comprised of a number of techniques, including muscle relaxation and meditation.
The review can be found at www.aafp.org.
Natural migraine treatment may start with your state of mind. Consider mind-body therapies for migraine headache treatment.