Breakthrough therapy significantly curbs headaches, PTSD in veterans

A therapy developed specifically for post-traumatic headache significantly reduced symptoms in veterans following a traumatic brain injury and also reduced co-occurring symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, a study published June 27 in JAMA Neurology found.

More than 369,000 U.S. veterans with post-traumatic headache experience comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder. The experimental treatment, dubbed cognitive behavioral therapy for headaches, was conducted using a randomized clinical trial of 193 post-9/11 combat veterans from 2015 to 2019. 

The study showed that cognitive behavioral therapy for headaches proved appealing to patients, had a low dropout rate, was easy for therapists to learn and deliver, and was more effective at treating post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and headache disability than traditional cognitive behavioral therapy.

The study was led by Don McGeary, PhD, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. His effort was part of the work of the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD, a group jointly funded by the U.S. Defense and Veterans Affairs departments.

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