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Dealing with Tension Headaches

By Eileen Bailey

Anxiety is characterized by extreme worrying or fear and is classified as a psychological disorder. Even so, there are a number of physical symptoms caused by anxiety. Anxiety sufferers frequently complain of headaches, caused by constant worrying and muscle tension.

What are Tension Headaches?

According to familydoctor.org, tension, or stress headaches are “a constant dull, achy feeling on both sides of the head.” These types of headaches can include tight feelings in either head or neck muscles. Tension headaches often begin in the middle of the day and start slowly. [1] An article, “Tension Headache” on CNN.com indicates that tension headaches can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an entire week. Chronic headaches are those that appear for 15 days or more in a month for several months.

Tension headaches can cause additional symptoms, such as:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating

The differences between migraines and tension headaches are sometimes blurry. Researchers have shown that chemical changes in the brain are similar in both migraine and tension headaches. In addition, some people that have chronic tension headaches also get occasional migraine headaches and vice versa. Tension headaches, however, are not normally accompanied by visual problems, slurred speech or weakness/numbness on one side of the body.

Medical Treatment of Tension Headaches

Many tension headaches can be treated with over the counter pain relievers. If you are taking other medications for anxiety, your pharmacist will be able to help you determine if over the counter medications are safe for you to take and will not cause interactions with your current medications.

When over-the-counter medications do not provide relief for headaches, a doctor may prescribe prescription strength medication to help take away the pain. In addition, if you find you need over-the-counter medication on a daily basis, you should speak with your doctor.

Headaches should be treated as soon as possible to avoid the pain increasing.

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