Causes Of Anxiety Headache
Pain in the head and neck is a very real problem when you’re suffering from anxiety, and there are actually many different reasons for them.
There are several potential causes for headaches. Just a few include:
- Triggered Migraines Stress and anxiety are known to trigger migraine headaches, and they can be quite severe. Migraines can be extremely problematic with anxiety because they have a tendency to lead to further problems with concentration, vision, and more, all of which may increase further anxiety.
- Tension Headaches Stress also creates tension headaches. Tension headaches are headaches caused by tensing of the muscles in the face and neck as well as teeth clenching. Tension headaches tend to be in the temples, but can be in other parts of the head as well.
- Sensitivity to Lighter Pain Some mild headaches happen surprisingly often, but they go unnoticed because they’re mild enough to be ignored. But when you have anxiety, you can become oversensitive to these types of sensations in a way that makes the pain amplified.
Headache is very common, and it comes in all forms. Some people report shooting pains. Others report dull pains. Others report a feeling as though a bubble is in the back of your head.
Q What Is A Tension Headache
A. People describe tension headaches as an aching pain that affects both sides of the head. They can last 30 minutes or linger for a few days. Typically, pain is the main symptom. Common migraine symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or light sensitivity arent usually factors for a tension headache.
The biggest trigger for tension headaches, and probably the reason they are so common, is stress, says Dr. Estemalik. In most cases, lifestyle tweaks that reduce stress are enough to keep tension headaches at bay.
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Managing Tension Headaches At Home
A tension headache is pain or discomfort in your head, scalp, or neck. Tension headache is a common type of headache. It can occur at any age, but it is most common in teens and adults.
A tension headache occurs when neck and scalp muscles become tense or contract. The muscle contractions can be a response to stress, depression, a head injury, or anxiety.
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The Root Of All Evil: Stress
Regular life can feel like running around to put out fires without a cooling-off period in between. Trying to function with a headache on top of it is even more stressful.
The American Migraine Foundation says almost 70 percent of people with migraine are triggered by stress. They recommend making a list of known stressors and making a plan to reduce their impact on your daily life.
How Long Can An Anxiety Last
Anxiety attacks typically last no more than 30 minutes, with the symptoms reaching their most intense at about halfway through the attack. Anxiety can build up for hours or even days before the actual attack so it is important to take note of factors that contribute to anxiety to effectively prevent or treat them.
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Can Anxiety Cause Dizziness
Anxiety disorders may be associated with dizziness.
People with anxiety disorders, particularly those with panic disorder, often complain of feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
However, the link between dizziness and anxiety isn’t completely clear.
It’s thought, though, that stress-related hormones or compounds released during the fight-or-flight response might affect the vestibular system within the inner ear, which coordinates balance and movement. This, in turn, may be the source of feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness in some individuals with anxiety disorders.
Simple Strategies Can Reduce The Headaches Upset Stomach And Shortness Of Breath That May Be Triggered By Emotional Stress
You’ve had headaches on and off, or possibly nausea, or muscle pain. It could be emotions, rather than a physical illness, driving your symptoms.
Blame your autonomic nervous system. This is a system in your body that you don’t consciously control, but that regulates things like your heart rate, breathing, urination, and sexual function. It’s also the system that reacts when you are under a physical threat. The autonomic nervous system produces your fight-or-flight response, which is designed to help you defend yourself or run away from danger.
When you are under stress or anxious, this system kicks into action, and physical symptoms can appear headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, shakiness, or stomach pain. “Doctors see it all the time patients with real pain or other symptoms, but nothing is physically wrong with them,” says Dr. Arthur Barsky, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
In today’s world, with the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic toll, many people may be noticing new physical symptoms without realizing what’s causing them. “This is a terribly stressful time,” says Dr. Barsky. “There is stress about what our lives are like, the ominous threat of getting the virus and getting sick. It’s already clear that the pandemic is heightening anxiety and sense of stress.”
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Use Meds In Moderation
Pharmacy shelves are stocked with pain relievers for all kinds of headaches. To get the most benefit with the least risk, follow the directions on the label and these guidelines:
- Choose liquid over pills. Your body absorbs it faster.
- Avoid ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs if you have heart failure or kidney failure.
- Do not give aspirin to a child under age 18.
- Take painkillers as soon as you start to hurt. Youâll probably beat it with a smaller dose than if you wait.
- If you get sick to your stomach when you get a headache, ask your doctor what might help.
- Ask your doctor what to take to avoid a rebound headache, which is pain that sets in after a few days of pain relievers.
And be sure to talk to your doctor about what headache symptoms you should not treat at home.
The Concerning Symptoms Of Anxiety And The Anxiety Loop
When stress hits and your heart rate increases, your breathing quickens or you start trembling, it can be alarming. So alarming that, in some cases, you might even feel anxiety about your anxiety symptoms. This can lead to a worsening of the anxiety you’re already feeling.
When anxiety hits, try to calm yourself with these tips:
- Take deep, controlled breaths
- Close your eyes and try to clear your mind
- Release tension from your body by relaxing
- Accept your anxiety, challenge the validity of your concern and try to shift your focus
If your symptoms become severe, including chest pain and/or shortness of breath, seek immediate medical attention at an emergency room even if you think it’s related to anxiety.
And, if you’re experiencing general anxiety more frequently than usual, consider talking to your doctor or finding a mental health provider especially if it’s disrupting your day-to-day life. He or she can help you understand why anxiety happens and what to do about it.
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Treatment: How To Get Rid Of Anxiety Headaches
Utilizing standard treatments for headaches is the only way of relieving anxiety headaches rapidly. Tylenol, a non-prescription medication is normally reliable in providing pain relief as long as it does not trigger you any damaging side-effects. As these headaches tend to aggravate when you get dehydrated, consuming water can prove to be really valuable in relieving them also.
Anxiety, looking at digital screens for prolonged amount of times and dim lighting can cause eye pressure which is a contributing element for stress headaches. Thus, turning off the lights and resting your eyes for a while is another method that can be tried for relieving tension headaches.
Treating anxiety headaches immediately is not that easy in comparison to other symptoms of anxiety. The headache tends to continue even if you unwind yourself and attempt to decrease your anxiety. The following choices can be tried for pain relief:
- A warm shower is constantly good. It can reduce the pressure in the head as warm showers are known to relax the muscles.
- Rub the temples of the head while keeping your eyes closed for a few minutes. It may reduce the pressure rather.
- Get a massage from somebody. Your head will feel a lot lighter as the massage will alleviate the muscle stress in the back and neck.
Other treatments that may be advised by the doctor consist of:
Check With Your Pediatrician
When a child develops a pattern of physical symptoms before school, or other potentially stressful moments, experts recommend that you visit your doctor to rule out medical concerns. But if the child gets a clean bill of health, the next step is to help the child make the connection between their worries and their physical symptoms.
We help them understand in a very child-friendly way that sometimes our body can actually give us clues into what were feeling, explains Ms. Greenspan.
Parents can start by validating their childs experience and reframing it in a more helpful way. Instead of telling kids theres nothing wrong with them, the goal is to tell them that what theyre feeling is worry.
We give it a name, adds Dr. Domingues. We help them connect it to an emotion and label it. And after some practice kids are able to identify it, she adds. Yes, my stomach hurts and, oh yeah, I remember thats because Im feeling worried. And after learning some skills to help them calm down, I think they feel a sense of control. And that helps.
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Talk Therapy And Support Groups
Talk therapy can play a massive role in treating anxiety disorders and the associated headaches. Particularly effective for these conditions is cognitive-behavioral therapy , in which you and a therapist develop strategies for coping. In one-on-one sessions with a therapist, this entails:
- Learning how your thoughts contribute to your anxiety and pain
- Figuring out ways to change these thought patterns to reduce the intensity of attacks
- Learning how to control unwanted behaviors resulting from the condition
- Developing strategies for facing anxiety-provoking situations
There are also benefits simply to having someone to talk to, and support groups can provide that helpful ear. By sharing your own experiencesand being reminded that others are going through what you areyoull find further footing to manage your anxiety.
Q: How Can I Get Relief From Tension Headaches
A: A tried-and-true home remedy for both chronic andepisodic tension headaches is using a hot or cold compress to alleviate thediscomfort. Place it on the forehead or over the neck and shoulders.
People can easily manage episodic headaches with over-the-counter pain relievers like a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug and acetaminophen.We recommend people limit the use of OTC pain relievers to two times per weekat most. Using them too often could result in medication-overuse headaches,plus too much could damage the kidneys or liver.
People with chronic headaches may need daily preventionmedicines. But we have a lot of options to help people avoid tension headachesaltogether.
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Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety
In fact anxiety is associated with a host of physical symptoms, including headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, along with a racing heart, shakiness or sweating symptoms older people experience when theyre having a panic attack.
All these physical symptoms are related to the fight-or-flight response triggered when the brain detects danger. All of them have a purpose, notes , a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. When she talks to kids about anxious headaches or stomach aches, she explains the role of each. For instance, she says, your stomach hurts because your digestive system is shutting down to send blood to other areas of your body. You dont want to be digesting food at that moment because youre trying to either flee danger or fight danger.
Dr. Domingues assures children that these symptoms are not harmful theyre just their emergency system responding to a false alarm. But its important to understand that kids arent necessarily inventing their symptoms, and the danger may feel very real to them. Dont assume a child who spends a lot of time in the nurses office at school is doing it intentionally to get out of class. Their acute anxiety may be causing them pain.
Headaches and stomach aches related to anxiety are still real feelings, and we want to take them seriously, says Ms. Greenspan.
Symptoms Of Anxiety Headaches
People living with an anxiety disorder can experience migraines or chronic tension headaches. Different types of headaches have various symptoms as follows:
1. Tension Headaches
These headaches commonly develop with anxiety and stress, but they can have other triggers. They generally improve quickly but could persist for several hours or days. Though these headaches may not be severe enough to affect your daily life, they could still negatively impact your quality of life. Symptoms include:
- Mild to moderate aching or dull pain
- Pressure behind your eyes
- Tightness in your shoulder and neck muscles
- Pressure that feels like a band tightening around your head
- Scalp tenderness
2. Migraine Headaches
Anxiety can also cause migraines. It can be challenging to determine one from the other when you get both migraines and tension headaches. Symptoms include:
- Throbbing or pulsating pain in your head
- Pain one side or part of your head or face
- Tingling on one side of your face, arm, or leg
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased sensitivity to light, sound, and strong odors
Migraines can last for days without treatment and become so severe that they prevent you from performing your daily activities. In addition, movement and physical exercise often make you feel worse.
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What Can Parents Do To Help
The first thing our experts suggest is something parents should not do, or at least try not to do: Let kids avoid things they are afraid of. It can be very tempting when children are complaining of a headache or stomach ache to let them stay home from school, or skip the party or the game theyre worried about. But avoidance actually reinforces the anxiety.
If were allowing them to avoid it, says Ms. Greenspan, then theyre not able to learn that they can tolerate it. The message needs to be: I know it hurts, I know its uncomfortable, but I know you can do it.
Another things parents should not do is ask children leading questions like Are you worried about the math test? Questions should be open ended, to avoid suggesting that you expect them to be anxious: How are you feeling about the math test?
If the problems your child is having are disrupting their ability to go to school consistently or concentrate at school, participate in activities, socialize with peers they might have developed an anxiety disorder that should be treated by a mental health professional. The treatment favored by most clinicians for anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy . CBT helps kids as young as 5 years old identify their anxiety and learn skills to reduce it.
The techniques clinicians teach children to calm down body and mind can also be deployed by parents, for children with less impairing symptoms.
Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure
No, but it can cause a temporary spike in your blood pressure.
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a condition in which your blood pressure is chronically higher than it should be. This places extra force on the walls of your blood vessels and, over time, can lead to several health conditions, including:
General anxiety can cause a temporary, significant increase in your blood pressure, but the effects typically don’t linger long enough to have a lasting impact on your health or cause long-term high blood pressure.
However, if you regularly experience blood pressure spikes due to chronic anxiety issues, your blood vessels can be affected in ways similar to high blood pressure.
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How To Get Rid Of A Tension Headache: Prevention And Treatment
The goal in treating tension headaches is to eliminate the symptoms immediately and to prevent headaches from occurring again in the future. Tension headaches are never a fun experience, but luckily, there are some easy lifestyle changes and simple treatments you can use to reduce pain and limit future episodes.
Relax With Meditation Or Yoga
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Is It Okay To Have Headaches Everyday
New daily persistent headache Your doctor may need to run tests to make sure these headaches aren’t secondary that is, a symptom of a serious underlying condition. Although daily headaches might not be the result of a dangerous problem, they can affect your quality of life and shouldn’t be considered normal.
Q: Are There Different Types Of Tension Headaches
A: We categorize tension headaches as episodic or chronic.Episodic tension headaches are milder, less frequent and relativelyshort-lived.
If someone reaches a threshold of 15 headache days a month, orrealizes their headaches are affecting their life quality, we would label thoseas chronic tension headaches.
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How Anxiety Affects The Head
Anxiety refers to feeling fearful, worried, or nervous before, during, and after a stressful event. An anxiety attack could lead to pressure and heaviness in your head, along with a racing heart, trouble concentrating, and sweating.
For most people, anxiety comes and goes. However, for others, anxiety can linger and worsen over time. When it persists and interferes with your daily life, you may suffer from an anxiety disorder. Examples of anxiety disorders include:
- Social anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Anxiety disorders occur due to a mix of genetics and your situational environment, including your upbringing and lifestyle choices. They can sometimes occur with depression and other mental diseases, compounding the symptoms.
Anxiety causes a heavy head feeling because of tension headaches common in people living with the disorder. Most people describe these headaches as feeling like a tight band wrapped around their heads. A tightening of the scalp and neck muscles also causes an anxiety headache.