Medications for Preventing Migraines
Those who suffer from chronic severe and disabling migraines (more than two or three each month) may benefit from these preventive medications. Each has significant side-effects and should be used under a doctor's supervision. These include:
- NSAIDs: Regular use of low-dose aspirin may reduce the occurrence of migraine, according to one study. Prescription-strength doses have also been found to reduce the frequency of headaches. Long-term use can lead to serious gastrointestinal problems, including bleeding of the stomach lining.
- Beta Blockers: Usually prescribed for cardiovascular disease, these medications can also reduce the frequency and severity of severe migraine.
- Anticonvulsants: Valproate and related drugs, used to treat epilepsy and bipolar disease, have recently been approved for the prevention of migraines.
- Antidepressants: Tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep) and protriptyline (Vivactil) and selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs (Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil) reduced the number and severity of migraine attacks by half in up to half of the patients in one study. The tricyclics are particularly effective for people who suffer from combined migraine and tension headaches.
- Calcium Channel Blockers: Also typically prescribed for heart patients, calcium blockers have been shown in clinical studies to be effective in preventing migraine. They may work by blocking the release of neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain that stimulate nerve cells) involved in causing pain.