Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Holding in Anger Exacerbates Headache Disability

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Holding in Anger Exacerbates Headache Disability

Article excerpt

BOSTON -- Blowing off steam may be one way to ease chronic headache pain.

The extent to which headache sufferers hold in their anger is a significant predictor of headache-related disability, even after controlling for such factors as headache frequency and intensity, trait anger, and depression, according to a study from St. Louis University.

Additionally, holding in anger appears to mediate the association between depression and headache-related disability, Rob Nicholson, Ph.D., reported in a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy.

Previous studies have shown that psychological and emotional factors can exert a strong influence on headache-related disability, and that depression is an important predictor of headache-related disability.

In the current study, Dr. Nicholson and his colleagues analyzed the pain experience of 52 adult headache sufferers who were recruited from St. Louis University.

The participants provided information about their headache characteristics and were administered affective trait measures, including the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and trait anger measures via the Trait Anger Scale (TAS) and the "anger-in" subset of the TAS, which measures the extent to which individuals suppress their feelings of anger.

The predominantly female (87%) study group reported having a mean of 9.8 years with headache pain.

Of the participants, 31% reported a history of migraine headaches, 29% reported a history of tension-type headaches, and 40% experienced both types.

The group's mean headache-related measures were as follows: headache pain disability on the BPI scale of 1-51 was 20.88 (standard deviation [SD] 12.73), headache frequency per month was 8.21 days (SD 7.62), and headache severity on a scale of 1-3 was 2.50 (SD 0.50).

With respect to depression and anger measures, the mean score on the 0-30 BDI scale was 9. …

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