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Drugs to Prevent Tension Headaches

Preventive medications for tension headaches are needed when headaches are frequent (more than 15 a month), long lasting, or have a significant effect on the quality of life.  While many different types of medications have been used in the prevention of tension headaches, the table below lists medications that are more commonly used and have been shown in a clinical trial to be effective.

 

CategoryGeneric NameBrand NamePossible Side Effects
AntidepressantsamytriptylineElavilSedating, weight gain, heart arrhythmias
 

nortryptiline

 

PamelorModerate sedation, weight gain, heart arrhythmias
 protryptilineVivactilNot sedating and can stimulate, weight loss, heart arrhythmias
 

mirtazepine   

 

RemeronSedation, weight gain
 venlafaxine  Extended ReleaseEffexor XRGastrointestinal
AnticonvulsantstopiramateTopamaxSedation, weight loss, altered skin sensation
 gabapentinNeurontinSedation, dizziness

 

 

 

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on March 15, 2014

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