Does the way I respond to stress have an effect on my headaches?

No one really understands how stress causes headaches. But here are some facts you should consider:

  • Feeling tense or stressed-out can increase the number and intensity of your headaches.
  • You may find that you don't get a headache when you're stressed but when you finally relax. Feeling tense and then relaxing can change your body's blood flow, triggering a headache.
  • Worry - even worry over having headaches - can trigger headaches. Learning to control your anxiety will help. If you find it difficult to control anxiety on your own, talk with your doctor. There are many treatments for anxiety that work very well.
  • Any changes in routine that require adjustments or adaptations can provoke a headache. Learning to cope with change is an important part of headache management. If you find you get more headaches when you change routines, stress, as well as any changes in sleeping or eating patterns, could be the triggers.
  • The stress that comes from physical exertion can also be a trigger.

Learning to Relax Can Help

Relaxation can help you through difficult periods, and, over time, it can reduce your overall stress and anxiety. That may reduce your headache pain. Learning a few deep-relaxation techniques is well worth the effort.


There are plenty of ways to relax. You can take a relaxation or meditation class at a hospital, local college, community center, or mental health agency. You can use self-help instructional videos and audiotapes to learn to relax. You can often find these tapes at health food stores, libraries, and music and video stores. Once you learn the techniques, you can also make your own audiotapes.

Any of the following techniques should help you relax and better deal with stress.

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