Anxiety Headache(A guide)

In this article, titled “Anxiety headache,” we will discuss what anxiety headache is, its symptoms, types, causes as well as treatment.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety, as we know, has psychological and physical symptoms. Some of the main psychological symptoms are irritability, panic, edginess, fear, excessive worrying, uneasiness, nervousness, apprehension, and restlessness.

What about physical symptoms, they are a headache, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, trouble sleeping, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, sweating, and muscle tension.

Stresses or worries caused by some situations can result in tension headaches.

If a person experiences severe or frequent headaches, it may worsen the symptoms of anxiety. 

What is an Anxiety Headache?

As we mentioned above, anxiety headache is an anxiety symptom, which can be caused by stresses or worries.

On the other hand, having headaches frequently or having severe headaches can worsen anxiety symptoms.

The high proof of it is that according to the American Migraine Foundation, almost half of Americans who have migraine also struggle with anxiety, generalized anxiety, or another anxiety disorder. 

The Types and the Symptoms of Anxiety Headache

People who suffer from an anxiety disorder, have anxiety headache, which can be tension headache or migraine.

The symptoms of anxiety headache are differently connected to their type.

What is a Tension Headache?

A tension headache (or stress headache) is the most common type of primary headache.

In that case, the pain can come from the lower back of the head, the neck, eyes, forehead, or other muscle groups of the head, neck, and face.

Tension headache is about 90% of all headache cases.

According to some studies, tension headache is more common in women than in men.

Anxiety Headache(A guide)

The Symptoms of Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are usually caused by stress or anxiety. However, their causes can be different.

The main symptoms of tension headache are:

  • The pressure behind eyes,
  • Neck and shoulder muscles tighten,
  • A constant mild or moderate (it can be severe too but very rare) dull or nagging pain,
  • Bending the head’s surface, tension, or contraction as if the head was squeezed in a vice, ticks, or squeezed by a helmet. This symptom is so characteristic that it even received the unique name “helmet of neurotic” (due to the often observed connection of tension headaches with neurosis, anxiety, and depression),
  • The headache is usually symmetric and is observed on both sides of the head at the same time, but can be asymmetric as well.

Tension headaches can be episodic or chronic.

According to the accepted definitions, the diagnosis of episodic headaches of the tensional type is made if headaches of this type torment the patient for less than 15 days every month, and the diagnosis of chronic headaches of the tension-type is made if the headache of this type torments the patient for more than 15 days every month for at least six months.

One attack of a tension headache can last from several minutes or tens of minutes to many days, weeks, months, and even years of continuous headache.

However, the most typical average duration of a tension headache is 4-6 hours.

Usually, tension headache is not severe to affect a person’s daily life, but it can still have a negative influence on his/her activity.

What is a Migraine Headache?

Migraine headache is а type of headache, the symptoms of which are periodic bouts of the headache of moderate and severe intensity.

Headache, as a rule, is localized in one half of the head, has a pulsating character, and lasts from 2 to 72 hours.

Anxiety Headache(A guide)

The Symptoms of Migraine Headaches

The main symptoms of migraine headaches are:

  • Pulsating pain,
  • Pain on one side of the head or of face,
  • Feeling of tingling of your face, leg or arm on one side,
  • Visual effects like seeing spots, flashing lights, or blurry vision,
  • Nausea and vomiting,
  • Feeling dizzy,
  • Hypersensitivity to the light, sounds, or smells.

If it is not treated, a migraine headache can last for days, however, in contrary to tension headache; it is severe, it affects a person’s daily life and prevents him/her from usual activities.

Anxiety Headache(A guide)

The Causes of Anxiety Headache

Different triggers, such as: can cause anxiety headache

  • Distress,
  • Constant muscle tension,
  • Trouble sleeping,
  • Too much or too little serotonin in the brain.

Anxiety Headache Treatment

Anxiety headache can be treated in different ways. However, the treatment is chosen depending on the type of headache and its severity.

Some treatments focus on treating the underlying causes of anxiety, and others focus on relieving the pain.

Anxiety treatment

There are some ways to treat anxiety: psychotherapy, medications, and some ways to cope with anxiety:

Psychotherapy can include counseling and therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), or art therapy.

The professional specialists can help you to recognize negative and distorted thoughts and replace them with more positive ones. 

Psychotherapy can be helpful in relieving pain caused by anxiety headaches as well.

  • Medications

Some medications are used to treat anxiety, reducing their symptoms. They include tricyclics, benzodiazepines, or antidepressants. 

  • Exercises and techniques to cope with anxiety

You can also learn some exercises and techniques that may help you to cope with anxiety, such as relaxation techniques, physical exercises, exercises to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, and others.

You should also avoid using caffeine and alcohol, as well as quit cigarettes.

Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) is reported to be an effective treatment for anxiety. It is an FDA-approved, prescriptive, noninvasive electromedical treatment that has been shown to decrease anxiety, insomnia, and depression significantly.

Here is a quick list of the Best cranial electrotherapy stimulation devices that can lower symptoms of anxiety.


Pain-relieving medication for tension headache and migraine

Pain-relieving medication for anxiety headaches are:

  • Over-the-counter medication (OTC) – ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen (especially for tension headache),
  • Triptans – almotriptan, eletriptan, and sumatriptan.

However, you should avoid overusing medication, as it can cause serious health problems.

Alternative Remedies

Some alternative remedies can be helpful too:

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Anxiety Headache(A guide)

Recommended books and sources

  1. Dawn Buse, Ph.D. – The Video – Link Between Migraine, Depression, and Anxiety
  2. Headache-Free: Relieve Migraine, Tension, Cluster, Menstrual and Lyme Headaches
  3. Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain
  4. HFNE “Acupuncture for Anxiety”
  5. HFNE “Am I Going Crazy?”
  6. HFNE “What am I good at?”
  7. SCHOOL: Fear. Headache. Anxiety. Nervous exhaustion. Exam.

FAQs about the topic “Anxiety Headache.”

Can you get headaches from anxiety?

It is not clear, yet if you can get headaches from anxiety or not.

However, headaches are common symptoms of anxiety. Stresses or worries can cause anxiety headaches.

On the other hand, having headaches frequently or having severe headaches can worsen anxiety symptoms.

How long do anxiety headaches last?

The duration of anxiety headaches depends on their type: the average duration of a tension headache is 4-6 hours, while migraine can last from 2 to 72 hours.

What does a stress headache feel like?

A stress headache or tension headache feels like:

– The pressure behind eyes,

– Tightening of neck and shoulder muscles,

– A constant mild or moderate (it can be severe too but very rare) dull or nagging pain,

– Bending the head’s surface, tension or contraction as if the head was squeezed in a vice or ticks or squeezed by a helmet. This symptom is so characteristic that it even received the unique name “helmet of neurotic” (due to the often observed connection of tension headaches with neurosis, anxiety, and depression),

– The headache is usually symmetric and is observed on both sides of the head at the same time, but can be asymmetric as well.

What does anxiety pain feel like?

Anxiety pain can feel like tingling of your face, leg or arm on one side; pressure behind eyes; neck and shoulder muscles tighten; dull or nagging, pulsating pain in anxiety headaches; and feeling faint, chest pains, and dizziness, pain like a sharp, stabbing sensation that starts suddenly in anxiety chest pain.

What triggers anxiety?

There are different anxiety triggers, such as stress, negativity, medications, caffeine, financial difficulties, social events, conflicts, personal triggers, and others.

How do you calm down anxiety?

To calm down anxiety, you should:

– Take a deep breath,

– Admit that you are anxious,

– Challenge your thoughts with worst-case scenario thoughts,

– Release the anxiety with physical activity, avoiding those that include expression of anger,

– Visualize yourself calm,

– Think it through answering questions, such as: if it will matter to you next week, or if it worths to worry so much, and others,

– Listen to music; it may have a calming effect,

– Change your focus,

– Practice muscle relaxation to relax your body,

– Write down your thoughts,

– Go for a walk in the fresh air,

– Eat something if you feel hunger, as the latter can make you anxious.

Conclusion

Anxiety headache is an anxiety symptom, which can be caused by stresses or worries.

On the other hand, having headaches frequently or having severe headaches can worsen anxiety symptoms.

The high proof of it is that according to the American Migraine Foundation, almost half of Americans who have migraine also struggle with anxiety.

Anxiety headache has two types: tension headache (stress headache) and migraine, depending on which it can be treated in different ways, such as medications, psychotherapy, and alternative treatment.

Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.

What we recommend for curbing Anxiety

Below are some of the services and products we recommend for anxiety

Anxiety Weighted Blankets

  • Anxiety Weighted Blankets are by far the number 1 thing every person who suffers from anxiety should at least try. Anxiety Blankets may improve your sleep, allow you to fall asleep faster and you can even carry them around when chilling at home.

Online Therapy

  • Online therapy is another thing we should all try. We highly recommend Online therapy with a provider who not only provides therapy but a complete mental health toolbox to help your wellness.

Anxiety Course

  • With over 50,000 participants, this anxiety course may be just what you need to regain control of your life.

Light Therapy

  • Amber light therapy from Amber lights could increase the melatonin production in your body and help you sleep better at night.  An Amber light lamp helps reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and increases overall sleep quality.

References

  1. Mercante JPP et al. (2011). Primary headaches in patients with generalized anxiety disorder
  2. Zebenholzer, K et al. (2016). Impact of depression and anxiety on burden and management of episodic and chronic headaches – A cross-sectional multicentre study in eight Austrian headache centers. 
  3. Anxiety and Headaches: What is the Connection?

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