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Tension Headache (cont.)

Can tension headaches be prevented?

Medications used for prevention of tension-type headache include antidepressants, beta-blockers, and anticonvulsants. These medications are usually worth trying, but they are more likely to be effective if the person also has migraine or cluster headaches. Most doctors choose to start with the newer generation antidepressants, which have fewer side effects, and gradually increase the dose to reach a therapeutic effect. Antidepressants may have to be tried for 1-2 months to determine if they help.

What's the outlook for a person who suffers from tension headaches?

Tension-type headache is a harmless medical condition that responds well to over-the-counter pain relievers taken when an occasional headache strikes. Some people with episodic tension-type headache overuse medications and cause headaches to progress into chronic tension-type headaches.

At present, no studies associate tension-type headache with the development of more severe or life-threatening medical conditions. Additionally, no studies specifically evaluate chronic tension-type headache. The outlook for people with chronic tension-type headache is not well understood.

Medically reviewed by Joseph Carcione, DO; American board of Psychiatry and Neurology


Taylor, F. R., MD. "Tension-type headache in adults: Acute treatment." UpToDate. Updated Mar 10, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/2/2016
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Headache, Tension »

The International Headache Society (IHS) began developing a classification system for headaches in 1985.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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