Stress: A Major Cause of Headache?
Stress headaches, also called tension headaches, originate from the effects of stress. Pain usually strikes on the temples and base of the neck and is accompanied by back pain and muscle tension.
Tension headache pain can vary from mild to severe. Studies show that these types of headaches have a higher incidence during the middle of the day. Perhaps this is because we reach our peak temperature at that time, so blood vessels expand and cause the brain to feel constrained.
Stress headaches can be treated with OTC (over-the-counter) medication if they occur occasionally and are generally mild. Ibuprofen-based medications are generally the best at relieving stress headaches, as they release the tension in our muscles and allow them to relax, easing blood flow to the brain. Ibuprofen also reduces brain inflammation, which is a common cause of tension headaches.
If your headaches are regular, repetitive, or very painful, consulting a doctor is a safe bet. If the diagnosis is in fact stress headaches, he will likely prescribe a more potent medication, other than an OTC, that can help you manage the pain.
There are some natural ways to ease away a tension headache. First, you can relax your body and mind by taking a nap. Many times light affects tension headaches, much like in the case of a migraine. Taking a nap will give your body some healing time while reducing your exposure to pain-causing light simultaneously.
Second, you can apply ice to where you feel a headache or at the base of your skull. This decreases inflammation in the area and allows muscles and capillaries to relax.
In many cases, taking a hot bath or shower also eases tension in the muscles in your back and neck, and provides you a feeling of satisfaction, which can really counteract a stressed mindset.