In controlled, clinical trials at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, researchers examined the effects of Schultz-type autogenic training (a simple form of self-hypnosis) on headache-related drug consumption and headache frequency in patients with either migraine, tension-type, or mixed (migraine plus tension-type) headache over an 8-month period. There are only a few studies that compare the efficacy and durability of the same treatment in different types of primary headache, and the effects of treatment on headache-related drug consumption rarely have been assessed even in these studies.
Twenty-five women with primary headache (11 with mixed headache, 8 with migraine, and 6 with tension-type headache) were evaluated via an open-label, self-controlled, 8-month, follow-up study design. After an initial 4 months of observation, patients began learning Schultz-type autogenic training as modified for patients with headache. They practiced autogenic training on a regular basis for 4 months. Based on data from headache diaries and daily medication records, headache frequencies and the amounts of analgesics, "migraine-specific" drugs (ergots and triptans), and anxiolytics taken by the patients were compared in the three subgroups over the 8-month period.
After the first month of the autogenic training, headache frequencies were significantly reduced in patients with tension-type and mixed headache. Significant reduction in frequency for patients with migraine was achieved only from the third month of autogenic training.
Decreases in headache frequencies were accompanied by decreases in consumption of migraine drugs and analgesics. Reduction in consumption of anxiolytic drugs was more rapid and robust in patients with tension-type headache compared to patients with migraine, and this outcome failed to show any correlation with change in headache frequency.
The study concludes that Schultz-type autogenic training is an effective therapeutic approach that may lead to a reduction in both headache frequency and the use of headache medication.