How to Treat Headache with Different Behavioural Therapies

How to Treat Headache with Different Behavioural Therapies

Headache is a psychophysiological disorder that affects a person both physically and mentally covering almost every aspect of life including relationships, health, sleep, and exercise. 

The basic question a headache patient must ask to himself that "How to treat this disease which encompasses our whole life"? Well, that is why doctor often goes for a holistic approach by suggesting a combination of medicine and behavioral therapies that works better than the standalone therapy.

It is better to choose complementary headache regimen as it has been found through researches that it works fine. Here are some of the therapies that have been found effective in controlling headache and migraines:

Relaxation Therapy

Some people are not easy going with a mild headache. Even a minor stress can be a painful phenomenon for an everyday goer. The person would feel that it’s some kind of work deadline or some other stress like paying bills or taking care of a child.

For a person prone to a regular headache, a slightly low intensity of it can trigger his nervous system increases the blood pressure, muscle tightening, sweating, inability to sleep and shallow breathing.

Typically, relaxation therapy consists of both the muscle relaxation and deep breathing. With deep breathing, a person concentrates on fulfilling his lungs to the fullest and then slowly and properly releasing them. This, in turn, increases oxygen flow to the brain and lessens muscular tension, hence, reduction in pain. 

On the other hand, PMR or progressive muscle relaxation teaches to tighten and relax the muscle. Through this technique, a person learns how to alleviate tension and reduce its impact of a headache.

Generally, relaxation training can go upto 12 weeks until the patient learns to incorporate them in their day to day life.


This technique involves coping up with pain and stress by altering thoughts, behavior, and feelings. This is usually done with an electronic device that measures physical processes of patient’s body such as heart rate, breathing rate, skin temperature and muscle tension and gives information back to the patient in the form of sounds and graphs on a computer screen. There are two forms of biofeedback prevalent today:

  • EMG (electromyographic) biofeedback in which electrodes are placed on some muscles and then the machine gives feedback on the screen.
  • Thermal (hand-warming) biofeedback in which temperature of hand and fingers are measured to determine the level of stress and anxiety.

Through biofeedback, a person learns how his body responses in stressful conditions and how to gain control on various physiological functions. After going through several sessions, once you learn to recognize your body through this technique, you won’t need machine training anymore.

Cognitive Therapy

This therapy gives you insight about the sources responsible for the development of headache and migraines. Some common ones are mentioned below:

  • Family problems/conflict
  • Unable to get enough sleep
  • Harassment by peers at schools, colleges or workplaces
  • Emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  • Environmental triggers (e.g., smells, eyestrain, noise)
  • Academic challenges
  • Excessively strict parents

Once a person learns the sources of headache and the counselor teaches him how to replace those negative thoughts with the positive ones, he can cope up with the disease better and in a more effective manner.

It is recommended to remain proactive in a search for various headache therapies. If one is not working, try another and don’t forget to seek doctor’s help for some alternative plan.