Relationships Between Arousal-Related Moods and Episodic Tension-Type Headache: A Biopsychological Study


Address all correspondence to Dr. Donald Pritchard, University of Adelaide, Nth Tce, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia.


An exploratory study was conducted examining arousal-related moods and episodic tension-type headache. Twelve subjects meeting International Headache Society criteria for episodic tension-type headache and 12 headache-free controls recorded headache activity and mood eight times daily for 14 consecutive days. Moods were measured using the Activation-Deactivation Adjective Check List, a self-report list that subjectively represents general arousal along two dimensions of Tension and Energy. Headache subjects had higher Tension levels than controls even in the absence of pain, and greater variation in this dimension as well. Within the headache group, Tension during pain-free periods was significantly lower than when experiencing headache, and was correlated with headache activity. The results were taken to support Thayer's (1989) biopsychological model of mood and arousal, and are discussed in terms of the model's heuristic value for general arousal and headache research.