Book Review: Breaking the Headache Cycle by Ian Livingstone, MD & Donna Novak, RN

Posted September 5, 2011 by Melissa in Book Review | 2 Comments

Breaking the Headache Cycle: A Proven Program for Treating and Preventing Recurring Headaches
Title:  Breaking the Headache Cycle
Author:  Ian Livingstone, MD & Donna Novak, RN
Reading level: Adult
Genre:  Non-Fiction

Size: Paperback, 197 pages
Release Date:  January 2004

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, LLC
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Borrowed from Library

First Line:   “I remember my first migraine as vividly as if it occurred yesterday.”

Summary (from GoodReads):

Two headache specialists offer their innovative Headache Reduction Program, for treating and preventing recurring headaches.

Twenty-eight million people in the United States suffer from chronic, recurrent, often disabling headaches-half of them forgoing medical attention in favor of analgesics that do nothing to prevent the next one. In Breaking the Headache Cycle , the authors-migraine sufferers themselves-present the integrated Headache Reduction Program (HARP) that they developed at the Princeton Headache Clinic.

Based on the central insights that the predisposition to headaches is a sign of an unusually sensitive nervous system and that drugs are only one component of the most successful treatment plans, this remarkable program instructs readers in a range of techniques, including:

– how to relieve the pain of migraines
– how to detect and ward off oncoming headaches
– how to prevent migraines from even threatening

The innovative solutions detailed in Breaking the Headache Cycle range from simple breathing exercises and dietary changes to support groups and the latest medications. In this thorough and accessible guide, the authors promise new relief for those already being treated for recurring headaches and for those who currently suffer in silence.


Gradual restoration of the balance is natural and safe as you slowly begin to adjust the scales and emerge from your protective shell. For some it may feel like gradually emerging from a state of siege to freedom, like the tortoise putting its head out of the shell or a prisoner walking into the sunshine of freedom.

My Thoughts:

I suffer from chronic migraines.  I have since I was about 12 years old.  Their frequency, duration, and intensity vary depending upon the current events in my life, but I’ve never been able to feel like I had any sense of control over them and essentially my life because of them.

From the first page…I kept saying..”Yes..that perfectly describes me” and I was hooked.  I could relate to almost everything in the book and it all started coming together for me.  Symptoms, triggers, OTC drug dependency, etc…

This book written by medical professionals who are also migraine sufferers – gives me hope.  Hope that I can gain back some control…hope that I can reduce the intensity and frequency of my headaches.  I definitely reccomend this to anyone that suffers from headaches and truly wants a better understanding of their causes and some simple techniques for taking back one’s life.

My Rating:

I loved this book

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2 responses to “Book Review: Breaking the Headache Cycle by Ian Livingstone, MD & Donna Novak, RN

  1. My brother also suffers from migraines..sometimes so debilitating that once he was rushed by ambulance to ER…it was about 20 minutes into the ride before he could remember who the current president was!!!!!!!!!! I’ll have to pass this one along to him.

  2. @ Staci That is scary…I only once ended up in the ER. My sister forced me to go…but I am glad that she did. Sounds like his are even worse than mine! Yikes!

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