Symptoms, Causes & How to Treat Stress Headaches
There’s no denying that life can be stressful, but the way you choose to manage that stress determines how it will impact your health. Stress headaches, also known as tension headaches, are the most common headaches experienced by adults. Yet they remain misunderstood by many people who suffer from them.
Causes of Stress Headaches
As the name suggests, the biggest triggers for this type of headache are stress and tension. However, the exact cause of stress headaches is unknown. Possible theories about their cause include muscle contractions in the head region, a strong sensitivity to pain, and muscle tenderness.
Symptoms of Stress Headaches
Stress headaches often feel like a tight band that’s wrapped around the head. Other stress headache sufferers describe their pain as a dull ache, a sensation of tightness, and pressure across the forehead and along the sides of the head.
They can cause mild or moderate pain and can be either episodic or chronic. To be considered a chronic condition, most medical professionals agree that the headaches must strike at least 15 days per month for three consecutive months or more.
The Physical & Mental Effects of Stress on the Body
The effects of stress on the body are both physical and mental, and they can become very severe if stress is not effectively addressed and managed. Both physically and mentally, stress impacts the nervous system by shifting its resources to fight perceived threats and stimulate the adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline. Stress can also impact mental conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, personality changes, and overall cognitive functioning.
Physically, stress affects the digestive system by increasing blood glucose in the bloodstream and the respiratory system by making it difficult to breathe. Stress takes its toll on the heart by increasing your heart rate, overworking blood vessels, and even causing the coronary arteries to become inflamed. And these physical effects also extend to the musculoskeletal system, the endocrine system, and the reproductive system.
The Connection Between Stress and Headaches
There are strong ties between stress and headaches. When people are stressed, they often tense the muscles in their head, neck and shoulders, which can cause compression and pain. Another common characteristic of a stressed person is grinding of the teeth and jaw, and these stress reactions can trigger headaches too.
Treating Stress Headaches
Fortunately, there are safe, easy, affordable, and effective remedies for treating stress headaches available to you. Recommended treatments typically include a blend of healthy lifestyle habits and targeted medications.
With aspirin, acetaminophen, and a low dose of caffeine, Vanquish provides gentle, effective headache relief for tension headaches which can often be caused by stress. For chronic stress headache sufferers, some doctors recommend preventative medications and alternative treatments, like acupuncture and massage.
Stress Prevention Strategies
But of course, the best way to avoid stress headaches is to prevent stress from controlling your life in the first place. Managing stress can help prevent headaches before they even form and allow you to do the things you love with the people you care most about.
Here are some stress prevention tips to remember next time you find yourself in a stressful situation to help you remain headache-free all day long.
- Loosen up your muscles with stretching or yoga
- Practice deep breathing exercises or meditation
- Look for ways to simplify your life and your daily schedule
- Get organized and be prepared for whatever the day may bring
- Eat a healthy diet packed with nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables
- Relax in the evening and get enough sleep at night
- Remember to laugh a little every day
- Seek help from a friend, family member, or counselor if your stress becomes unbearable
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