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Understanding the gaps in headache and migraine treatment with psychological and behavioral interventions: A narrative review.

Zamir O, Yarns BC, Lagman-Bartolome AM, Jobanputra L, Lawler V, Lay C. Understanding the gaps in headache and migraine treatment with psychological and behavioral interventions: A narrative review. Headache. 2023 Sep 1; 63(8):1031-1039.

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OBJECTIVE: In this narrative review, we summarize relevant literature pertaining to psychosocial risk factors for headache and migraine progression, current behavioral and psychological treatments, and consider promising treatments. BACKGROUND: Headache and migraine are common and associated with significant burden and disability. Current treatments targeting psychosocial risk factors show modest outcomes and do not directly address the impact of early life adversity, including the development of maladaptive emotional processing. An intervention that could address these factors and include components of current evidence-based interventions may lead to improved outcomes. METHODS: We searched PubMed and Google Scholar for articles through December 2022. Search terms included headache, migraine, psychological interventions, behavioral interventions, cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, psychiatric comorbidities, adverse childhood experiences, trauma, and emotional processing. RESULTS: Trauma and childhood adversity show a correlation with headache and migraine progression. Developmental adversity and trauma interfere with adaptive emotional processing, which may worsen headache and migraine symptoms, while adaptive ways of experiencing emotions are shown to improve symptoms. Current behavioral and psychological interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness therapies, are effective treatments for headache, but they produce small to medium effect sizes and do not directly address the impact of trauma and emotional conflicts-common factors that contribute to chronicity and disability, especially among certain subpopulations of headache patients such as those with migraine. Thus, there exists a gap in current treatment. CONCLUSION: There is a gap in headache and migraine treatment for those patients who have a history of trauma, childhood adversity, and maladaptive emotional processing. We suggest that an integrated psychological treatment that includes components of current evidence-based interventions and addresses gaps by focusing on processing trauma-related emotions may improve chronic and debilitating symptoms.

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