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Where Headaches and Depression, Anxiety Meet: A New Approach to Treatment

January 10, 2022

Headaches and behavioral health conditions, like depression and anxiety, can often seem cyclical as one prompts the other in a seemingly endless loop of misery.

In what is believed to be the first collaboration of its kind in the country, Hartford HealthCare providers from the Ayer Neuroscience Institute Headache Center and Behavioral Health Network have been working together to offer patients complementary care that addresses their interrelated healthcare concerns.

“We have been trying to identify barriers and bridge gaps in care for patients,” said Dr. Brian Grosberg, Medical Director of the Headache Center. “In this case, we know that many people who suffer with headaches also experience anxiety or depression, either as a result of what can be debilitating and lingering physical pain or as a trigger or risk factor for developing more frequent headaches.”

The building housing the Headache Center in Cheshire also features one of Rushford’s Medication-Assisted Treatment Close to Home (MATCH) programs.

“This geographical opportunity was a way for us to enhance both programs and provide key services patients truly need,” said Dr. J. Craig Allen, Vice President of Addiction Services for Hartford HealthCare and Medical Director of Rushford.

Dr. Grosberg and other headache specialists have begun referring patients to Rushford for behavioral health assessments and, if appropriate, treatment in the form of in-person or virtual group therapy with access to medication management and non-medicinal therapies such as yoga. The goal is to address depression and anxiety and, in turn, help the patients reduce the frequency and severity of their headaches.

While the MATCH program is known for a team-based approach to addiction treatment, including the use of Suboxone and Vivitrol for opioid use disorders, the same strategies are used to address comorbid and primary psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety, Dr. Allen said, this new collaboration brings the breadth of mental health services to Headache Center.

For information on MATCH, click here. For help with headaches, click here.