Anxiety Headaches - Can Anxiety Cause Headaches?

Written by: Arooj Paulus – B. Sc (Psychology)

Last updated date : October 31, 2022

Do you frequently feel tense? Or do you have headaches often? They can occur side by side as. So is it the headache that is making you anxious? Or is it the anxiety that is causing you headaches? To answer these questions let us look at the connection between anxiety and headaches.

In this article, we will discuss what anxiety headaches are, the signs, and the causes behind them. In the end, we have some tips to help you relieve your pain.


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Chapter 1:

What Are Anxiety Headaches?

Anxiety is to have excessive worry, fear, and uneasiness. It can result in bodily symptoms such as nausea, exhaustion, difficulty in breathing, etc. However, headaches are among its most common signs.

For instance, if you are in a condition of stress or pressure for a long time. Do you experience an unexplainable headache? You know now that it is because of the tension and anxiety.

Also, according to studies, those who have headaches may be up to five times more likely to suffer stress than those who do not.

Let us see next what the signs of anxiety headaches are to help you look out if you are having anxiety headaches.

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Chapter 2:

Signs of Anxiety Headaches

Most people who have an anxiety issue also suffer from headaches or chronic headaches. The sort of headache you have will determine the signs you feel.

Anxiety Headaches

These headaches are mainly due to the presence of stress or anxiety. These types of headaches get better as soon as the source of tension lessens. However, it can linger on for some time and has a harmful effect on life. You can have the following signs:

  • If you have mild to moderate pain in the head.
  • If you feel pressure on your eyes area.
  • You may feel stiffness in neck and shoulders muscles.
  • A feeling of discomfort and tingling in the scalp.
Migraine Headaches

In most cases, a migraine is defined by a moderate to severe headache that is perceived as a throbbing pain on one side of the head. Other common symptoms include feelings of being unwell, as well as heightened sensitivity to light or sound. The difference between anxiety headaches and these headaches is that migraines do not go away on their own. Medical help is a must to get relief. You can have the following signs:

  • Having a sensation of palpitations.
  • Pain on either side of the head, whether left or right.
  • A sensation of tingling or numbness in the face, legs, or arms.
  • Blurry or double vision.
  • Feeling nausea
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Hypersensitivity to noise, light, or strong smells
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Chapter 3:

Causes of Anxiety Headaches

Headaches can be due to a number of reasons whether a medical issue or a psychological issue. Let us look at some of the possible causes of anxiety headaches.

1. Tension or Anxiety

As the name suggests that anxiety, worry, or fear is the major cause of these headaches. If a person is having emotional disturbance and stress in daily living, he/she is likely to have headaches as a bodily sign of anxiety. However, an increase in tension can cause the headaches to be severe.

2. Pain Sensitivity

In addition, those who have headaches are more sensitive to pain. Such as your muscles may become weaker as a result of this sensitivity. For instance, for some people, loud noises are irritating while others do not have any problem. Similar is the case of pain sensitivity as some people can tolerate severe pains while for some even mild pain is very disturbing.

3. Muscle Pain

One sign of stress is tense muscles. Your body reacts to anxiety by being ready to cope with the cause of your concern. For instance, if you are under long-term stress then your body is in a fight or flight response for a long time. Your body is in constant tension that causes pain in the muscles of your body.

4. Poor Sleep

Poor sleep habits and having less than required sleep can cause you to have fatigue and headaches. Vice versa anxiety causes you to have sleepless nights and headaches likewise.

Lack of sleep increases the body’s production of proteins that lead to severe pain, according to research. These proteins tend to lower the body’s pain tolerance, which can cause severe headaches.

However, excessive sleep can also result in headaches. The reason for this, according to researchers, is the impact that excessive sleep has on some brain chemicals, such as serotonin.

5. Stress Hormones

Serotonin is a brain chemical that plays a major role in mood regulation. Low levels of serotonin cause depression, anxiety, and sleep problems. Recurrent headaches may also be caused by altered serotonin levels in the brain.

As a result, we may state that anxiety causes headaches.

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Chapter 4:

Tips to Relief Pain

Although it may not be easy to eliminate headaches, there are certain measures you may take to lessen their frequency and intensity, Such as:

  • Know when you are stressed and if the stress persists you can always take an expert’s help.
  • You can practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing. It will help you to get your breathing and heart rate at a normal level.
  • You can also practice guided imagery or progressive relaxation as well as mindfulness. (You can look for mindfulness practices on our website to help you cope with your pain).
  • Avoid taking too many medicines on your own since you can get dependent on painkillers or sleeping pills. They may also make you more sensitive to pain.
  • Moreover, practice self-care and self-love.
    • Eat healthy food.
    • Do not skip meals.
    • Give yourself some rest.
    • Take enough sleep.
    • Exercise daily.
    • Maintain healthy boundaries in relationships.

Though the sensation could be unpleasant, always remember that there is a cure for every issue.

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Chapter 5:

Call to Action

You can read “Headaches“, under the section on body and aches at Epsychonline. To help learn about the headaches, their causes, and how to treat them.

Further, you can enroll in the Chronic Pain course on our website. To help you to manage chronic headaches and pain or anxiety associated with it.

We hope this article was helpful to you. Sign up now for more learning.


"Quick online learning, thanks!" Susan

92 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

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25% discount