Headaches affect us all in one way or the other. Whether it is workload or a major trauma you have encountered, stress is pretty much obvious. No matter what the cause of stress may be; the consequence most of the time turns out to be the same, that is, a headache. You might have been a victim of this medical problem unknowingly since most people are unable to differentiate stress headaches from other headaches.
Stress headaches are also referred as tension headaches, are mild pain, tightness or pressure around the forehead or at the back of the neck and head.
While people typically overlook stress when they are trying to figure out what is causing the headache in the first place, you would be surprised to know that stress is one of most prevalent reasons behind a person catching an everyday headache. Let’s find out more.
How to Spot Stress Headaches
While it is not so difficult for a trained physician to differentiate between stress headaches and other kinds of pain, not every other person can do that. Here is a simple way to spot: If you are going through a stressful situation lately with a stubborn headache in front, side, top or back of the head, back of the neck or in between shoulder blades, it’s most probably tension or a stress headache.
As the name suggests, stress headaches are caused when a person is unable to cope with a stressful condition or overthinks on a situation. Pain science(1) offers another in depth article for more information as well. The challenging circumstances are common nowadays but contemplating on such obstacles result in this type of headache. These situations include:
- Work Stress
- Personal Appearance
- Severe Insecurities
- Social Anxiety
- Health Worries
- Financial Problems
- Relationship Issues
- Past Incidents
These are just a few issues that result in persistent tension headaches, not to mention a myriad of everyday problems that cause these headaches.
Like all other medical conditions, there is a criterion to differentiate tension headaches from other medical conditions of similar nature. Some of the symptoms associated with a stress headache include:
- Mild to moderate pain
- A headache in second half of day
- Muscle pain
- Poor focus
- Sensitivity to noise or light
As compared to that, some symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, weakness, numbness in arms or legs or blind spots are not associated with stress headaches. You can compare your symptoms with the ones given here to find out whether you are suffering from stress headaches or not.
The treatment strategy depends on the intensity of pain. If the pain is mild or short-term, then OTCs (over the counter medicines) are preferable. As compared to that, if you are suffering from chronic tension headaches, then you might want to see a doctor and use prescription medicines including antidepressants, anti-seizure agents, and combination drugs.
Pain relievers are sometimes not enough to help you get rid of stress headaches since the main reason behind the pain is stress. What’s important here is that you should find the reason behind stress and sort out a solution to your problems to relieve these headaches once and for all.
Since we have already discussed how frequently people suffer from stress headaches, it is good to learn about some home remedies to relieve the headaches instead of going for the medicinal treatment right away. Some of the home remedies(2) include consumption of nuts, fish oil, ginger root, peppermint oil and betterbur. Getting yourself hydrated by drinking much more water is yet another effective strategy. Adding exercise can also help as well.
Tips to Avoid Them
As mentioned earlier, stress headaches are most prevalent kind of headaches that people usually come across. Here are a few tips that will help you avoid one:
- Change sleeping position or use a different pillow.
- Try to maintain a good posture in everyday activities such as reading, working,
- Stretch your neck, back, and shoulders while working to avoid stress.
- Indulge in healthy activities, eat homemade food and exercise daily.
- Find solutions to your problems instead of procrastinating on them.
- Get regular checkups & use the medication if you suffer from a medical condition alongside.
- Practice stress management and learn different relaxation techniques or meditation.
Now that you have learned about the basics, you can easily spot the triggers, try out the ways to avoid them and use treatment and remedies if needed. Although they are an everyday problem, don’t be reluctant to see doctor if your headaches persist longer than usual.
Try to relax and let go of the issue that is bothering you. Most times you make it worse than it really needs to be. For more articles on headaches and helpful treatments, try some natural remedies or visit any of the sponsored links found on this site.
Another type of headache which is often very painful are what is called a cluster headache. We have written a great article about these cluster headaches, symptoms and treatments. Click the link to learn more about these awful headaches.