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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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Drugs to Treat Migraine Headaches

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Drugs for Migraine Prevention

Category Generic Name Brand Name Treatment Information Possible Side Effects
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories diclofenac Cataflam Headache pain relief,
Menstrual migraine prevention
May raise risk of heart attack or stroke,
Gastrointestinal upset,
Drowsiness,
Dizziness,
Vision problems,
Ulcers
  naproxen sodium Aleve,
Anaprox
Headache pain relief,
Menstrual migraine prevention
May raise risk of heart attack or stroke,
Gastrointestinal upset or bleeding,
Nausea,
Vomiting,
Rash,
Liver damage
Tricyclic antidepressants amitriptyline Elavil Frequently started at low dosages and slowly increased to a therapeutic level.
EKG may be needed.
Blood tests may be needed while taking this medication.
Taken nightly.
Fatigue,
Dry mouth,
Weight gain,
Constipation,
Drowsiness,
Blurred vision,
Older adults also may feel confusion or faintness.
SNRI antidepressants venlafaxine Effexor   Sleep problems,
Drowsiness,
Dizziness,
Vision changes,
Less sexual desire or ability,
Headaches
Beta-blockers propranolol,
metoprolol,
timolol,
nadolol,
atenolol
  Depending on the form, may be taken one to three times a day. Fatigue,
Depression,
Weight gain,
Memory disturbance,
Faintness,
Diarrhea
Calcium channel blockers verapamil,
nifedipine
  Depends on the form. Frequently started at low dosages and slowly increased to a therapeutic level.
Taken twice a day. Usually the first dose is taken in the morning.
Constipation,
Dizziness,
Swelling,
Fatigue
Anticonvulsants topiramate Topamax,
Qudexy XR,
Topiragen
Frequently started at low dosages and slowly increased to a therapeutic level. Tingling in the arms,
Nausea,
Drowsiness,
Weight loss
  valproate Depacon,
Depakote,
Depaken,
Stavzor
Depends on the form. Usually once or twice a day. Nausea
Tiredness,
Tremor,
Dizziness,
Weight gain,
Hair loss,
Birth defects
Botulinum Toxin Type A onabotulinumtoxin A Botox Multiple injections are given about every 3 months to prevent chronic headache. Headache,
Neck pain

Warning: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a public health advisory about potential risks of taking triptans together with SSRI and SNRI antidepressants: "A life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome may occur when triptans are used together with a SSRI or a SNRI."

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 19, 2014
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