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Escitalopram and Venlafaxine for the Prophylaxis of Migraine Headache Without Mood Disorders

Tarlaci, Sultan MD

doi: 10.1097/WNF.0b013e3181a8c84f
Original Articles

There is evidence that some antidepressant drugs are beneficial in the prophylaxis of migraine. Previous reports have shown that migraine patients may respond to various antidepressant agents used for prophylactic therapy. The main purpose of this study was to compare the efficacy of antidepressants from 2 different groups (venlafaxine vs escitalopram) on people who had migraine headache without depression or anxiety. In this prospective study, we evaluated the headache diaries of 93 patients who were being treated with venlafaxine (n = 35) and escitalopram (n = 58). At the end of the 3-month period, patients were reassessed, and those with marked differences in attack frequency, duration, intensity (with visual analog scales), lost work-day equivalent index, and migraine disability assessment questionnaire were compared. There was a clear reduction in headache frequency (P < 0.0001), duration (P < 0.0001), and severity (P < 0.0001) in the venlafaxine group. In addition, there was a significant improvement in daily work performance during headaches (P < 0.0001). In the escitalopram group, monthly headache frequency (P < 0.026), duration (P < 0.002), and intensity (P < 0.027) all decreased significantly, although not to the same extent as with venlafaxine. After the third month of venlafaxine and escitalopram treatment, most of the patients (82.8% vs 96.5%) were seen to have moved to the minimal or infrequent migraine disability assessment group. According to our findings, venlafaxine and escitalopram are both effective in the prophylaxis of migraine headache without depression and anxiety. This effect was independent of mood disorder. Escitalopram should be the first choice because of its fewer side effects, but venlafaxine may be used if escitalopram is found to be insufficient.

From the Ege Sağlık Hastanesi, Nöroloji Bölümü, Turkey.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Sultan Tarlaci MD, Özel Ege Sağlık Hastanesi, Nöroloji Bölümü, 1399 Sok No 25 35220 Alsancak İzmir TÜRKİYE; E-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.