A great deal of studies suggests that cluster headache (CH) patients are usually comorbid to anxiety-mood spectrum disorders and psychopathological symptoms; however, the personality profiles reported in the literature strictly depend on type of assessment used. Psychiatric comorbidities have been extensively studied in migraine and they are recognized to represent a major risk factor associated with poorer outcome, playing a role in the headache chronification process at once as cause and consequence of it. By contrast the incidence and role of psychopathological aspects in CH is still not clarified, insufficiently explored as the striking severity of such a physical pain apparently leaves no room to psychological explanations.
Cluster headache (CH) is commonly regarded as one of the most disabling headache conditions, and referred to as one of the most painful conditions known to humankind. Although there has been some research indicating the severe impact of CH, there is little comprehensive evidence of its impact on quality of life, disability, mood, and cognitive function in both its episodic (ECH) and chronic (CCH) variants.
Despite significant advances in unravelling the pathophysiology of cluster headache (CH), little is known about neuropsychological functioning. Apart from neuroimaging studies indicating involvement of posterior hypothalamic and other areas frequently involved in nociception, some studies suggest involvement of prefrontal areas. Among others, these mediate executive functioning (EF).
Previous reports on cluster headache have shown a hypothalamic dysfunction and a hitherto unrecognized defect in the information processing pathways measured by event-related potentials. As of today, the causes are still unknown; likewise, studies on the psychological factors involved in CH have not yielded relevant data.
The aim of this review article is to provide an integrative perspective by combining basic assumptions of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with neuroscience research results. In recent years, interdisciplinary research in the field of neuroscience has expanded our knowledge about neurobiological correlates of mental processes and changes occurring in the brain due to therapeutic interventions.