Treating Headaches With Antidepressants

By Annette GallagherMarch 15, 2020No Comments

Antidepressants Prove Effective Against Headaches

Recent studies have shown that antidepressant medications are effective in treating headaches, including some forms of chronic migraines. These medications can be used to reduce the frequency and severity of some types of headaches. Although not yet conclusive, the studies are showing promise in the field. Tests continue to be performed to measure the effects on headaches of antidepressants in patients taking the medications for depression and other psychological issues as well as in patients given the medications specifically for headaches.

One of the fields of studies has been on antidepressant medications’ affects on the levels of serotonin in the brain. Tricyclics, such as amitriptyline, affect the levels of serotonin and other chemicals in the brain and have proved to be most effective in treating headaches and migraines. Venlafaxine and other serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) used for serious psychological disorders have also proven effective. The same affects have not been observed when using selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).

Side Affects Still Apply

Side effects like weight gain, fatigue, constipation and dry mouth are not uncommon with some antidepressant medications. To some these unwanted side effects may be worse than the headaches themselves. The patient and physician must decide together what medication side effects are acceptable and whether or not antidepressants are a viable treatment. In some cases the decision will come down to the patient’s tolerance of the medication’s side effects. Other side effects may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Inability to urinate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Sleepiness

Amitriptyline can cause more serious side affects in some patients. If your or someone you know exhibits these symptoms, contact the doctor right away:

  • New depression
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Panic attacks
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Severe restlessness

Furthermore, the use of antidepressants should never be stopped abruptly as this can leads to further side effects. Ceasing their use should be gradual and under the guidance of your physician.

Are Antidepressants the Answer to Your Headaches?

A wide range of factors comes into play when deciding how to best treat and prevent headaches and migraines. At New Jersey Headache Institute we have had success treating headaches and migraines using a variety of treatments including antidepressants. The important thing is not to go at it alone. We are experts in different types of headaches. Schedule a consultation with one of our physicians and learn about all of the ways Miami Headache Institute can help you with your headaches.

Dr. Payman Sadeghi is the co-founder of the New Jersey Headache Institute. He studied medicine at Nordestana University and finished his Internal Medicine internship and Neurology residency at the University of Texas. Dr. Sadeghi has completed an electromyography super fellowship as well as many epilepsy and neuroimaging fellowships. At his residency in Neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Dr. Sadeghi gained extensive experience diagnosing and treating headache and migraine patients. That residency, along with Dr. Sadeghi’s medical curiosity and his varied clinical experience, has made him a specialist in headaches and their treatment.

Dr. Sadeghi was also a clinical assistant professor during his time at the University of Texas. He is a member of the American Headache Society, the National Headache Foundation and the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Sadeghi is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Persian.