Head Pain From Stress: Symptoms and Treatment

Written by Priyanka Agarwal, Writer at Hola Health
Medically Reviewed by Amira Shah, MA in Couselling Psychology, Registered Psychotherapist, B.Ed with Guidance & Councelling B.Arts

Stress headaches or head pain from stress are like unwanted visitors who often knock on our doors when life gets overpowering. These headaches often emerge when individuals are feeling anxious, stressed or tense, creating sensations of pressure or tightness around the head, which can impede focus and relaxation. Understanding the impact of stress on our bodies and learning simple ways to manage it can help reduce stress headaches and improve our overall health.

What are Tension Headaches?

Tension headaches are common types of headaches that many people experience due to the various stressors in their lives. They can be discomforting, causing mild to moderate pain characterized by a sensation of a tight band around the head or pressure on the forehead. It’s important to recognize that tension headaches often stem from emotional or mental stress, poor posture, or muscle tension. When individuals experience overwhelming pressure, their bodies typically respond by tensing up, particularly in the head, neck, and shoulder muscles. While these headaches are typically not severe and seldom lead to nausea or vomiting, they may occur frequently or daily.

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Head pain from stress: Symptoms

Symptoms of a stress headache include the following.

1. A dull ache in the head.

2. Tightness around the forehead, neck and shoulder muscles.

3. Tenderness in the scalp, neck, or shoulders.

4. Mild to moderate pain that may come and go all through the day.

5. Difficulty concentrating or focusing.

6. Fatigue or worn out.

7. Mild sensitivity to light or sound.

8. Irritability or mood changes.

9. Muscle tension in the neck or shoulders.

10. Pressure behind the eyes.

How to reduce headache from stress?

Here are small steps that you can take to decrease tension headaches:

1. Practicing relaxation techniques: Managing stress by making use of relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing, and meditation is highly beneficial. Try performing activities that make you feel relaxed like reading and listening to music.

2. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle: Adopting healthy habits like getting adequate sleep, eating a balanced meal, limiting caffeine intake and staying physically active can be effective in preventing burnout. Thus, decreasing the chances of you getting a tension headache. 

3.  Take time off: Give yourself some time to unwind when you’re feeling stressed. Taking short walks or stretching can boost your energy levels. Consider taking time off from work or planning a vacation to take a break from a busy schedule and alleviate stress.

4. Adopt a positive mindset: People who prioritise problem-solving, optimism, and gratitude can handle stress better. By fostering general well-being and positive thinking, they can decrease the probability of stress-related headaches.

5. Biofeedback training: Biofeedback training is a technique that enables individuals to control involuntary psychological functions such as heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension. It helps individuals become more conscious of their body’s response to stressors. By keeping track of these psychological signals through sensors attached to the body, individuals learn to acknowledge and regulate their stress responses in real-time.

6. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talk therapy, where individuals work with a therapist to recognise and challenge negative thought patterns. It can effectually reduce tension headaches by focusing on the underlying thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to stress-related tension. It teaches adaptive coping strategies, relaxation methods, and stress management skills. It also encourages healthy reactions to situations, which results in long-term headache reduction.

7. Laugh more: Laughing is a great way to relieve stress. Laughter releases endorphins, that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude. You can watch funny movies or read funny jokes to let loose and laugh. 

8. Tracking headaches: Maintaining a headache journal will assist you in identifying the things that trigger your headaches. Tracking your headaches makes it easier to modify your lifestyle accordingly, therefore reducing the number of headaches that you get.

9. Talk it out: Confiding in your friends or family about things that bother you is a great way to reduce stress and tension headaches.

When to seek help?

When you experience stress headaches that don’t go away or keep coming back, it’s imperative to seek help. If natural remedies and over-the-counter pain relievers aren’t helping, it’s time to reach out to a healthcare professional. They can offer assistance on stress management and may recommend treatments like therapy, breathing techniques or prescription medicines if required. It’s important not to ignore persistent headaches, as they could indicate an underlying health issue or suggest that your stress levels are impacting your health. Seeking help early can prevent headaches from worsening and improve your overall quality of life.

To conclude, stress headaches are a common repercussion of modern-day living, but they can be effectively managed with simple lifestyle adjustments. By recognizing the triggers of stress headaches and implementing strategies to reduce stress, individuals can find relief and enjoy a healthier, happier life.

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Disclaimer

This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. For emergencies please immediately contact 000.