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Anxiety disorders and stress can trigger many problems. Stress can cause physical discomfort by manifesting in disease and other painful complications. 

You don’t have to be a victim of your anxiety. You can overcome it and learn to control it. The sooner that you diagnose and treat your anxiety, the less risk there will be of complications.

Symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Lightheadedness
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Heart disease

Anxiety causes symptoms such as irritability, inability to concentrate, sleeping problems and worry. Anxiety can affect execratory, digestive, cardiovascular, immune and respiratory systems. 

Severe anxiety can result in serious psychological disorders such as:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Clinical depression
  • Bipolar disorder

It can also result in social isolation, flashbacks, and muscle tension. 

Without treatment, anxiety can monopolize daily activities and quality of life. It can become a debilitating disorder that effects relationships, career, and social life. 

It’s important to understand the root cause of anxiety. By determining the root cause, you can improve your anxiety, resulting in an improvement of your quality-of-life.

Recently, researchers have noticed a correlation between anxiety and headaches. Physicians refer to these as “anxiety headaches”.

What Are Anxiety Headaches?

Anxiety can cause several different ailments, including headaches. Research connecting anxiety and headaches is vast. 50% of Americans that suffer from migraines also report having bouts of anxiety. 

Headaches, in general, are painful episodes of continuous pain in the head. There are many different types of headaches. Researchers have found that anxiety headaches are (1) tension headaches, or (2) migraines. 

Individuals that have frequent headache disorders are five times more likely to have anxiety. Though the research suggests a correlation, we don’t know what comes first: anxiety or headaches.

There does seem to be a cyclic response with anxiety headaches. The headache causes anxiety and the anxiety further contributes to the headache. 

With professional health, you can improve:

  • Quality of life
  • Panic disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • Mental health
  • Physical symptoms (such as headache pain). 

Relaxation techniques are also helpful.

Two Most Common Types of Anxiety Headaches

Research suggests that anxiety headaches manifest in one of two common headache disorders. 

Tension headaches and migraines cause the patient severe discomfort. Each headache type has two differing sets of common symptoms. 

Tension headaches are a pressure-like sensation of a tight band wound around the head. 

Tension headaches feel like a dull pressure. The pain will resolve itself within few hours. Advil can be used to help the pain during a tension headache episode.

Tension headaches are a common type of headache and may be episodic or chronic. 

For episodic headaches, pain will occur less than 15 days a month.

For chronic headaches, pain will occur more than 15 days a month. 

Unlike migraines, tension headaches don’t affect everyday life. Sufferers from tension headaches can usually continue with daily activities. 

Migraine headaches are throbbing or pulsing pain on one side of the head. Migraines are severe headaches and often cannot be treated with Advil or Tylenol. A migraine headache can last up to days without proper treatment.

Migraines may disrupt daily activities. Proper treatment is necessary to lower the frequency and severity of migraines. If medical intervention is not supplied at the onset, a migraine can last for days. 

Chronic headaches and chronic pain demand further testing to rule out additional contributors.

Symptoms of Anxiety Headaches

Whether you get tension headaches or migraines, the symptoms will differ. 

For a tension headache, symptoms include:

  • Dull, aching pain
  • Scalp tenderness
  • Tightness in neck
  • Tightness in shoulders
  • Tenderness in shoulder muscles 

For a migraine, symptoms include

  • Extreme sensitivity to light
  • Aura, or flashing lights
  • Irritability 
  • Stiff neck
  • Blurry vision 
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting

Patients that suffer from migraines often have to relax in a dark, quiet room until the pain ends. Sensitivity to light, smell and sound can be severe. 

Causes of Anxiety Headaches

Anxiety headaches are caused by anxiety and inability to cope with stress. 

Different factors can cause anxiety headaches.

Research suggests several common factors that increase the risk of anxiety headaches. To identify your cause of anxiety headaches, it’s important to seek medical advice. 

Poor Sleep 

Poor sleep is a major contributor to many different diseases, disorders, and ailments. 

You need adequate sleep to perform to your full potential. Depending on your age, ensure that you get between 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night. If you have difficulty falling asleep, try listening to white noise or reading a book.

Improper Serotonin Levels

Serotonin can have an effect on depression and anxiety. Serotonin supports happiness. Imbalanced serotonin levels causes anxiety and may lead to painful anxiety headaches. 

Tight Muscles

Tight muscles throughout the neck, back and shoulders can contribute to anxiety headaches. Anxiety can cause a patient to tighten shoulder muscles. This creates a cyclic response. 

Pain Sensitivity

If a patient is more likely to respond negatively to pain, anxiety headaches may occur more often.

Individuals with a low pain tolerance may become more anxious. 

Prevention of Anxiety Headaches

The key to any ailment or discomfort is prevention! 

Live a comfortable life by preventing anxiety headaches.

Get Enough Sleep

A lack of sleep contributes to anxiety! Get 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Do not oversleep or take frequent naps. 

Self-Soothe

Begin a self-soothe routine that maintains your baseline mood. Self-soothing can include: 

  • Using comforting essential oils, such as peppermint oil 
  • Taking a relaxing, warm bath with Epsom salts to soothe tense muscles 
  • Begin a workout regimen to strengthen muscles and release anxiety 
  • Meditate or practice yoga as a means to release anxiety 
  • Deep breathing
  • Try pet therapy. Take a time-out with an animal 

Eat a Nutritious Diet 

Some foods can minimize migraines and tension headaches. These foods include:

Ensure that you’re receiving healthy dose of essential nutrients. Try keeping a food log to see whether any foods are resulting in headaches.

Therapy 

Therapy is an excellent resource to reduce stress and create coping methods.

Book an appointment to discuss the cause of your anxiety. This can provide a long-term solution. Your therapist will work to understand the triggers and cause of your anxiety.

If you’re feeling anxious, see a therapist to work through emotional issues. 

Solutions for Anxiety Headaches

If you’re beginning to suffer from frequent bouts of anxiety headaches, all hope is not lost. There are tools that can make your episodes of anxiety headaches less frequent. 

Medical Intervention 

If you’re suffering from anxiety headaches, your physician may prescribe pain medication. You can also take over-the-counter medication to help improve pain levels. 

There are medications out there that can be taken during the onset of a headache. For example, Triptans might be prescribed to a patient suffering from frequent migraines. Be mindful about how you feel. Take medication at the onset to limit the prevalence and severity. 

If you don’t want medical intervention, there are holistic healing techniques that may provide some relief. Holistic healing techniques do not provide medication. 

Holistic Solutions

There are many holistic solutions that may improve anxiety headaches. Use self-soothing techniques such as meditation, yoga, and rhythmic breathing. 

Begin getting routine massages to help loosen muscles. This puts less pressure on the muscles. With massages, a patient is less likely to suffer from painful tension headaches.

Acupuncture is another excellent holistic therapy that can be implemented. Acupuncture needles can be inserted in the neck and muscles to loosen muscles. Acupuncture has a similar effect with anxiety as massage does. 

Some therapists recommend using peppermint oil as a natural treatment for headaches. Try using peppermint oil on temples and neck to improve pain. 

Holistic healing solutions might not completely heal the anxiety. However, they can provide temporary relief. Holistic healing solutions can help center you and decrease anxiety. 

Talk Therapy

For patients suffering from anxiety headaches, you should see a psychologist. 

Anxiety headaches are caused by extreme bouts of anxiety! A therapist will identify the root cause of headaches to heal the cause.

If you suffer from frequent tension headaches and migraines, call a local therapist. A therapist can identify triggers that cause headaches.

A therapist may suggest different methods of therapy to overcome the anxiety disorder. Most commonly, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(or CBT) is used for anxiety. 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy examines thoughts and behaviours. During CBT, the therapist will diagnose signs of anxiety. Together, you can create coping methods. CBT has proven to have a significant improvement in different anxiety disorders.

It’s imperative to rule out that no other mental illnesses are contributing to your stress, such as: 

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Agoraphobia
  • Social Anxiety Disorder

Depending on your unique diagnosis, different treatment options may be used such as:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Relaxation therapy
  • Painkillers to manage headache pain.

Why We Prefer Talk Therapy

Our mental and emotional wellbeing plays into our physical health. Your anxiety can manifest in other ailments, disorders, and illness down the road. 

Talk therapy treats the cause of the headache. This allows the patient to fully heal. 

Because we are focusing on the cause, you may minimize the risk of further complications. 

Anxiety is a difficult mental illness that is prevalent throughout the population. It is nothing to be ashamed of, even though it can feel like a difficult mountain to climb. 

We support long-term coping methods that can provide relief for the mind, body, and soul.

If you suffer from anxiety headaches we urge you to take the proper steps to provide relief.

Implement soothing methods and if you aren’t seeing results, consider seeking a therapist.

Conclusion

If you suspect that you have anxiety, take steps to overcome it. Anxiety can be frustrating and painful. Find a trusted support system and begin to work through it. 

Anxiety can be a difficult emotion to overcome, but it’s possible. You don’t have to suffer with symptoms of your anxiety. There are resources out there for you.

Consider implementing some holistic methods and seeing a therapist. If that doesn’t provide relief, your physician should be able to help.

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