Are my headaches caused by mental stress?
Do you seem to suffer more frequent headaches these days? Are you also under greater stress than usual? In fact, headaches and mental stress can go hand-in-hand. But to know if your head pain is a result of extra pressure in your life, you need to understand the type of headache you suffer. Then, you can figure out if your stress triggers the pain, contributes to it or occurs as a result of your physical discomfort. From there, you can find ways to prevent your headaches from occurring, relieve your pain and reduce the stress in your life.
Are headaches caused by mental stress?
There are three main types of headaches. One of these types can occur because of mental stress. The three types include:
Migraines are very painful and often debilitating for those who suffer them. These headaches typically occur on one side of the head and can last for up to three days. When you suffer a migraine, the pain worsens if you try to keep up with even minor daily activities. Along with the pain you can also suffer nausea, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, auras and vomiting.
Migraines are not typically directly caused by stress. But mental stress can make you more likely to suffer a migraine episode. In other words, stress can increase your migraines' frequency.
Secondary headaches are caused by a bigger health concern such as a stroke or brain tumor. Stress does not cause these headaches to occur but can contribute to the development of the underlying health problems. For example, prolonged stress can lead to high blood pressure that then makes you vulnerable to a stroke with associated headache.
Tension headaches are also frequently called stress headaches. As you have likely guessed, this pain is directly tied to the amount of stress you experience in your life. These headaches are quite common, affecting over one-third of all U.S. adults.
A tension headache causes pain on both sides of your head. You can also feel pain or tightness on the back of your neck or in your forehead.
Unlike a migraine, a tension headache does not generally keep you from fulfilling your daily routine. But they can occur a few times per month.
How can I prevent headaches caused by mental stress?
It is clearly proven by medical research that mental stress causes, or at least contributes to, tension headaches. Because stress is preventable, this means that related headaches are also preventable. Likewise, because stress makes you more likely to suffer a migraine if you are already a migraine sufferer, reducing your stress can help with this pain, too.
The best way to reduce mental stress-related headaches is to learn and practice stress management techniques. By using these coping skills, you can also build up your immune system. Immunity weakens when you are under prolonged stress.
Where do I learn stress management techniques?
A licensed therapist provides therapy designed to help you reduce your stress and learn healthy coping skills. Of course, if you suffer migraines or secondary headaches, you also need to see a licensed medical doctor. While over-the-counter medication can relieve pain caused by tension headaches, migraines and secondary headaches necessitate some medical intervention. You should also see your doctor if you suspect something besides mental stress is causing your pain.
Most American adults shoulder a significant amount of stress on an ongoing basis. Many also go through periods of time with intense prolonged mental stress. Holding onto this tension can lead to headaches and even contributes to development of other health problems. As said before, prolonged stress can weaken your immune system and make it easier to develop harmful conditions.
If you are tired of mental stress causing tension headaches and disrupting your quality of life, schedule a stress therapy session with Greene Psychology Group. We can help you learn effective coping skills for stress management and an improved mental outlook. Call us today at 919-205-5339 to schedule your first in-person or teletherapy visit.