Headache Caused By Stress: Understanding The Connection

callcenter employee experiencing a headache caused by stressA headache caused by stress is never easy to deal with but can make for a particularly frustrating experience. Stress headaches are the most common type of headache that can result from everyday stressors. These can range from mild to severe and can impact daily activities.

What Are Stress Headaches?

A headache caused by stress is a common type of headache that people suffer from. These are often caused by stress and are characterized by a dull, aching pain and tightness or pressure around the forehead, temples, or back of the neck. Stress can trigger tension-type headaches and migraines and worsen.

It is pretty common for children and young adults to experience stress-related headaches. Identifying the source of stress and seeking professional help is the best way to manage stress, in addition to adopting healthy habits such as regular exercise, stress reduction techniques, and getting enough sleep.

Symptoms Of A Stress Headache

These are characterized by pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck. Symptoms can also include upset stomach, muscle aches, irritability, high blood pressure, and feelings of sadness or depression.

On the other hand, people with migraines may experience an aura before the migraine episode, including vision disturbances, tingling in the face or limbs, difficulty speaking, and temporary loss of vision. During the headache phase of a migraine episode, throbbing, pulsing pain is often felt around the temples or behind one eye.

person experiencing vision disturbances

How Are Headaches and Stress Related?

These often feel like a constant ache on both sides of the head and can be very uncomfortable. Stress also has a close relationship with migraines, as anxiety (which often stems from stress) triggers this type of headache. It’s essential to implement stress management to reduce the likelihood of developing these types by seeking professional help may be necessary if they persist or become severe.

Different Types of Stress Headaches

Tension headaches can last for 30 minutes to several hours. It is important to note that there are different headaches, including episodic and chronic triggers of tension headaches. Episodic tension may occur just once in a while, while chronic tension can occur multiple times a week.

Stress vs. Migraine Headaches

It’s important to note that stress headaches are different from migraine headaches. While both types can be triggered by stress, tension tends to be milder and more persistent. On the other hand, migraine headaches are typically much more severe and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. It’s essential to recognize the differences between these two types.

How Common Are They?

A headache caused by stress is a common type of headache that various factors, including tension, anxiety, and other types can cause. These typically last 30 minutes to several hours, sometimes lasting for several days. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, more than 10% of the U.S. population suffers from migraines, which stress can also trigger.

It’s important to note that stress and anxiety related to stress can quickly be passed down from parents to children through learned behaviors, according to The American Journal of Psychiatry. This means it’s essential to manage stress levels not just for your health but also for the family’s health. Several options include medication, relaxation techniques, and lifestyle changes.

Headaches affect women more than men, with hormonal changes being a common trigger. However, men are more likely to experience a specific type of headache called a cluster headache.

When To Obtain Medical Attention?

If you experience sudden and severe headaches that persist or increase in intensity over 24 hours, it is necessary to seek medical attention from a headache specialist. Another indicator to see a doctor is when you encounter a headache that you would describe as the “worst ever.” The headache alarm bells should ring off when accompanied by memory loss, confusion, change in speech, loss of balance or vision, or weakness in any of your limbs. Suppose the headache follows a head injury or is accompanied by fever, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting. In that case, seeking advice from a healthcare professional is better.

The sudden onset of a headache localized to eye strain with redness may indicate acute glaucoma, which needs immediate medical attention. It is always better not to take any chances and seek medical attention to determine the severity of the underlying cause.

Prevention And Relaxation Tips

Stress-induced headaches can be challenging to manage, but there are a few preventive measures to keep them at bay. Identifying and avoiding potential headache triggers can be an excellent first step. Maintaining a regular sleep, exercise, and meal schedule is equally important. Opting for relaxation therapies, biofeedback, or cognitive-behavioral therapy can help reduce stress levels.

Find time with those who matter to you and engage in activities you enjoy. Regular breaks can also help release the buildup of tension in your mind and body, preventing stress headaches. It is always better to prioritize your physical and mental health over work or other activities that put excess pressure on your mind and body.

It is important to keep a headache diary to identify possible triggers of headaches so that changes can be made in lifestyle accordingly. Some headache-relieving techniques include relaxation or stress-management training, meditation, massage, acupuncture, and ice or hot packs. Remember to listen to your body and take breaks when needed. By doing so, you can keep stress-induced headaches at bay and lead a healthier and happier life.

Relief From A Headache

Woman in poor posture painStress headaches can be debilitating and can be caused by various triggers. Luckily, there are ways to relieve them. Pain relief, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, can be used, but caution should be taken to avoid rebounds caused by the overuse of pain relievers. Eliminating triggers, such as poor posture or sleeping in a cold room, can prevent tension headaches from happening. Additionally, regular exercise and relaxation techniques such as yoga and deep breathing.

Other Causes Of Headaches

Headaches caused by stress, also known as tension headaches, can be triggered by several factors apart from emotional stress and environmental factors. Physical activity, such as fatigue, overexertion, and dental problems like jaw clenching or teeth grinding, can cause headaches. Colds or sinus infections, caffeine consumption or withdrawal, and alcohol use are common triggers of stress. You can prevent stress by taking frequent breaks to avoid overexertion, maintaining good posture, minimizing alcohol consumption, and practicing stress-reducing activities.


Stress headaches are a common symptom associated with stressful events. They can cause mild to severe discomfort and hinder the ability to work and enjoy life. It’s essential to understand the causes and symptoms. Prevention techniques such as getting adequate sleep, exercising, and eating well.

BioScan can help patients with stress headaches by identifying what may be contributing to their symptoms. By identifying and addressing any underlying medical conditions, BioScan can help alleviate stress and headache symptoms and improve overall health and well-being.


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