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Keywords:

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy;
  • illness management;
  • migraine;
  • headache diaries;
  • treatment outcome

Objective

To determine whether a 1-day behavioral intervention, aimed at enhancing psychological flexibility, improves headache outcomes of migraine patients with comorbid depression.

Background

Migraine is often comorbid with depression, with each disorder increasing the risk for onset and exacerbation of the other. Managing psychological triggers, such as stress and depression, may result in greater success of headache management.

Method

Sixty patients with comorbid migraine and depression were assigned to a 1-day Acceptance and Commitment Training plus Migraine Education workshop (ACT-ED; N = 38) or to treatment as usual (TAU; N = 22). Patients completed a daily headache diary prior to, and for 3 months following, the intervention. Clinical variables examined included headache frequency/severity, medication use, disability, and visit to a health care professional. Comparisons were made between baseline findings and findings at the 3-month follow up.

Results

Participants assigned to the ACT-ED condition exhibited significant improvements in headache frequency, headache severity, medication use, and headache-related disability. In contrast, the TAU group did not exhibit improvements. The difference in headache outcomes between ACT-ED and TAU was not statistically significant over time (ie, the treatment by time interaction was nonsignificant). These results complement those of a previous report showing effects of ACT-ED vs TAU on depression and disability.

Conclusion

A 1-day ACT-ED workshop targeting psychological flexibility may convey benefit for patients with comorbid migraine and depression. These pilot study findings merit further investigation using a more rigorously designed large-scale trial.