Identifying and Treating Tension Headache's Underlying Causes

Non-Drug Headache Treatments

Treatments that address the underlying causes of the headache, such as stress or depression, are particularly effective for regular or chronic tension-type headaches. Chronic, severe tension headaches may also require prescription medications.

Tension-type headache treatments include:

  • Biofeedback Biofeedback helps control the body's responses, including blood flow, blood pressure, and pulse rate. Techniques for achieving biofeedback include relaxation techniques, imagery, and self-hypnosis. For more information on biofeedback and finding a biofeedback professional, see Headache Resources.
  • Relaxation Techniques Like biofeedback, these techniques can significantly reduce the effects of stress on your body, including, but not limited to, your headaches. For more information on simple relaxation techniques you can try yourself, see Relaxation.
  • Psychological Counseling Chronic tension-type headaches can be manifestations of underlying depression or anxiety, which can be offset with counseling.
  • Quitting Smoking Smoking is a risk factor for every type of headache because it constricts blood vessels and depletes oxygen and blood flow to the head.
  • Regular Habits Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and having a regular exercise schedule all help to reduce tension-type headache risk.