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How effective are migraine prevention drugs in treating headaches?

Dawn Marcus
Neurology
All drugs used as migraine prevention therapy were originally designed to treat some other health condition, such as high blood pressure, mood disorders, or epilepsy. When these drugs were used in large numbers of people with these other conditions, patients and doctors began to notice headache improvement. Many of these drugs have now been tested in large research studies to prove that they are also effective for preventing chronic headaches. Among the antidepressants, the older tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline and imipramine (Tofranil) are considerably more effective than the newer classes of antidepressants and anti-anxiety agents (such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs] or serotonin noradrenergic reuptake inhibitors [SNRIs]).

Remember -- prevention medications usually take several months to take effect, and they probably will not totally eliminate all future headaches. In general, doctors consider a prevention therapy to be successful if the number of headaches you have decreases by about half after using a prevention treatment for 3 months.
The Woman's Migraine Toolkit: Managing Your Headaches from Puberty to Menopause (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

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The Woman's Migraine Toolkit: Managing Your Headaches from Puberty to Menopause (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

Migraines are a common, controllable type of headache that affects one in every six women, more than 20 million in the United States alone. The Woman’s Migraine Toolkit helps readers take charge of...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.