Venlafaxine Extended Release (XR) for the Prophylaxis of Migraine and Tension-type Headache: A Retrospective Study in a Clinical Setting


Address all correspondence to Mr. Leon C. Adelman, Headache Wellness Center, Suite 302, 510 North Elam Avenue, Greensboro, NC 27403.


Objective.—To assess the efficacy of extended-release venlafaxine in the prophylaxis of migraine and chronic tension-type headache.

Background.—Venlafaxine, a structurally novel antidepressant, is a selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. This study is the first to test the effects of extended-release venlafaxine on headaches.

Methods.—Patients were evaluated on a retrospective basis. Fifty-six patients with chronic tension-type headache and 114 patients with migraine were prescribed extended-release venlafaxine. Nearly all the study subjects had been resistant to several previous preventive medications. Patients took venlafaxine for an average of 6 months with a median dose of 150 mg (range, 37.5 to 300 mg).

Results.—The mean frequency of headaches in the group with chronic tension-type headache fell from 24.0 to 15.2 per month (P < .0001). The group with migraine showed a reduction from 16.1 to 11.1 headaches per month (P < .0001). The medicine was well tolerated.

Conclusions.—This trial indicates that extended-release venlafaxine has potential in headache prophylaxis based on its efficacy and safety profile. We recommend a double-blind, placebo-controlled study to further assess the role of extended-release venlafaxine in headache prevention.