Study Shows Guided Imagery Lowers Intensity & Duration of Tension Headaches

Researchers at Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Isfahan, Iran tested the impact of a guided imagery audio tape evoking happy memories on sufferers of chronic tension headaches.  

Sixty people with chronic tension headaches completed a demographic questionnaire and kept a headache diary, three weeks during treatment and one week immediately after.

Subjects were randomly assigned into one of three treatment groups: a Guided imagery (GI) with tape group (n = 20), a GI with perceived happy memory group (n = 20) and a control group (n = 20). All sixty subjects received individualized headache therapy as well (standard care).

Both guided imagery groups had significantly more improvement than the controls in three of the outcome measures: headache intensity, headache frequency and headache duration. There were no other significant differences between the guided imagery groups (tape and perceived happy memory) at any time point.

The investigators conclude that guided imagery is an effective, available and affordable non-pharmacological therapy for the management of chronic tension headaches, either with a recording or with self-generated exercises of re-experiencing a happy memory without a recording.   

Citation: Abdoli S, Rahzani K, Safaie M, Sattari A. A randomized control trial: the effect of guided imagery with tape and perceived happy memory on chronic tension type headache. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences. 2012 Jun;26 (2): 254-61.

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