Stress Headaches and Relief

Stress headaches are often the price you pay whenever you develop tension and tight muscles in your neck or head.

Since many types of headaches occur for a variety of reasons it is very important to distinguish this type of condition from similar complains such as migraines, sinus headaches or cluster headaches

You cannot just blame one problem for being the cause of stress headaches. Genetics are not the reason for this type of physical compliant, but things that take place in your daily life can certainly be at fault.

Stress is the major factor for tension based headaches. In fact daily stress is a much more common cause than most people may realize.  This also means that being able to find stress relief is important.

Causes of Tension or Stress Headaches

When you are under a great deal of stress your muscles contract and this tension will be transferred to other areas of your body. The muscles in your neck are very large and these are very susceptible to tension and stress.

 Sometimes your body muscles can cramp and contract because you have poor posture. Holding your head and neck in just one position can also create tension in your muscles.

Other causes of stress induced headaches may be related to

  • Caffeine use
  • Alcohol
  • Fatigue
  • Too much exercise
  • Colds
  • Grinding your teeth
  • Nicotine
  • Excessive worry and anxiety

While some headaches are triggered by unknown factors the majority of tension headaches result from stress.

When you take a moment to consider this you will realize the many dozens of stressors that occur in your life each day. These include such issues as:

  • Family difficulties
  • Loss of a job/ getting a new job
  • Divorce
  • Depression
  • TMJ/grinding teeth
  • Vacations
  • Work responsibilities
  • Trying to do too much in a short period of time
  • Obsessive compulsive disorders

Relieving Stress

Relief for the symptoms of stress headaches can often be accomplished with the use of:

  • Massage
  • Heat packs
  • Warm baths/showers
  • Aromatherapy
  • Meditation
  • Quiet time where you are able to retreat and enjoy a book or music
  • Try to become more organized and practice good time management at home and at work

Stress relief is also possible if you are able to gain a new perspective on your life and decide which tasks are the most important; learn to say no when you do not have time to take on more responsibilities; and adopt a positive attitude.

You can even begin a journal and this will provide insight that shows you what really triggers your headaches. This will give you an opportunity to make changes that could get rid of many of those stressful factors.

If eliminating stressors is not possible then you should try at least one of the above suggestions to help deal with those painful stress headaches .


Typical symptoms of stress headaches include:

  • Widespread aching in your head and neck as opposed to one specific area of pain
  • These headaches are felt mostly on the sides (along the temples), at the top of your head, in your shoulders, at the back of your neck or along the scalp.
  • Pain that is dull
  • Feeling as though your head is being squeezed

Most symptoms are described as being in the mild to moderate pain range.

These tension headaches do not generally interfere with your ability to work, but they do make it frustrating to try and perform usual chores when you feel that unrelenting pressure in your head.

Painkillers Are Not the Answer

While many people choose OTC medications to help deal with stress induced headaches these products vary in their level of effectiveness.

Ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen are the top choices to try. Sometimes you can even take one of these medications and prevent the headache from developing. You have to exercise care and discretion when using any of these drugs.

Muscle relaxers and SSRI medications are sometimes prescribed to help control the signs and symptoms related to stress induced headaches. Even prescription pain meds can be used to alleviate these symptoms.

Rebound Headaches and Dependency Issues

If you use prescription pain medication it can lead to a dependency problem.

Many patients have also discovered that using strong pain medication too often can also result in a phenomenon known as ‘rebound headaches'. These headaches are triggered by the overuse of pain meds and they can become chronic in nature.

These rebound headaches do not respond well to any pain medication and can be more painful than the initial problem.

Common Problem

It is estimated that 80% of the US population experiences stress headaches at some point and time. With effective stress relief you can prevent these headaches from developing, or at least be able to treat the symptoms.

From Stress Headaches to the main page about Stress Symptoms

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