Anxiety is something that more and more people suffer from each day. The most common symptoms of anxiety include feeling worried, agitated, and restless. However, there are also some common physical symptoms. If you have anxiety, you may experience nausea, sweating, a stomachache, or a headache. In this article, you’ll find everything you should know about anxiety headaches, including the types, symptoms, causes, and treatment of them.
What Does An Anxiety Headache Feel Like?
So can anxiety really cause headaches? Well, an anxiety headache may be a headache that is caused by anxiety OR a headache that leads to increased anxiety. What does an anxiety headache feel like? The two most common types of them are mentioned below.
If you’ve ever had a migraine, then you know how bad it can get. These are very painful headaches that cause throbbing pain on one side of the head and may spread to other parts later. You may see flashy lights or a bright aura when you experience migraines. They can also make you sensitive to light and loud noises and even lead to nausea and vomiting. Due to the severity of migraines, you may be unable to perform your daily activities until the migraine is over (migraines usually last from a few hours to a few days).
This study by Chu et. al shows that people who experience migraines are likely to also experience symptoms of anxiety more frequently than those who do not suffer from migraines.
There are plenty of effective remedies for anxiety that you can try out. Ranging from absolutely costless mindfulness techniques to certain supplements, you’ll be sure to find something that works for you.
It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between tension headaches and migraines. However, if you don’t feel nauseous, then it’s probably not a migraine.
Causes And Triggers
You can never know for certain if your anxiety is causing the headache or if it’s the other way around. However, there are several reasons why you may be experiencing a headache alongside anxiety.
Poor sleep quality
Your body needs to rest in order to function properly. If you experience trouble sleeping, you may just wake up with anxiety and a headache.
Sometimes, your physical nervous behaviors may be causing your headaches. Behaviors such as clenching your jaw, keeping your shoulder and neck muscles in a tense position, or grinding your teeth. These behaviors usually happen unconsciously but eventually lead to headaches.
Take a pause every once in a while and try to notice every part of your body. Are you feeling tense somewhere? Then relax your muscles, do some deep breathing, and try to be mindful of these nervous behaviors throughout the day.
StressStress alone is a common cause of various types of headaches. Since people who are anxious also often experience stress, this can intensify any headache that you may have because of other anxiety symptoms.
Caffeine and alcohol consumptionConsuming excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol can also cause headaches. Anyone who has ever had a hangover knows just how severe of a migraine alcohol can cause. As for coffee, you should limit your consumption as much as possible.
This study by Hering-Hanit and Gadoth shows that excessive caffeine consumption by children and adolescents may cause headaches on the daily.
Treatment And Home Remedies
Can anxiety cause headaches? Yes. Are these headaches something you need to learn to live with? Absolutely not. There are many remedies for anxiety headaches that you can try out. However, you should know the difference between instant but short-lived remedies and more effective, long-term remedies.
Pain relief medication
This is one of the most popular approaches to any type of headache. Pain relief medications will instantly relieve the pain but the effects will be short-lived. It’s best to focus on more natural and long-term approaches.
Do something relaxing each day
If you’re always tense and stressed, your anxiety headache won’t go anywhere. No matter how busy your schedule is, always devote some time for relaxation. Whether it’s going for a walk in nature, meditating, or doing some deep breathing, this should greatly help reduce your headache and anxiety.
Improve your eating habits
The food we eat influences every aspect of our health, including headaches. If you often experience anxiety and headaches, you should try to eat as clean as possible. Try to avoid processed and sugary foods, reduce your alcohol and caffeine consumption, and focus on nutritious whole foods. And of course, always drink plenty of water!
Leading a sedentary lifestyle can worsen your anxiety symptoms, including anxiety headaches. You don’t necessarily need to do intense workouts every day. You might just need a walk in fresh air to relieve your headache. A light yoga or pilates workout can also be of great help.
Improve your sleep quality
As mentioned before, poor sleep quality is a common cause of anxiety headaches, so improving sleep quality can help avoid these headaches altogether. However, it may be extremely difficult to improve your sleep quality if you have anxiety AND go to bed with a headache. For this reason, you should consider melatonin supplements.
So there you go! Everything you need to know about anxiety and headaches. By understanding the causes of these headaches and following the tips on how to get rid of them, you’ll achieve some amazing results. Good luck!