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Drugs to Prevent Tension Headaches

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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.

 

Category Generic Name Brand Name Possible Side Effects
Antidepressants amytriptyline Elavil Sedating, weight gain, heart arrhythmias
 

nortryptiline

 

Pamelor Moderate sedation, weight gain, heart arrhythmias
  protryptiline Vivactil Not sedating and can stimulate, weight loss, heart arrhythmias
 

mirtazepine   

 

Remeron Sedation, weight gain
  venlafaxine  Extended Release Effexor XR Gastrointestinal
Anticonvulsants topiramate Topamax Sedation, weight loss, altered skin sensation
  gabapentin Neurontin Sedation, dizziness

 

 

 

 

WebMD Medical Reference

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

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