Headaches are one of the physical symptoms of anxiety. For some, the chronic headaches can interfere with life on an almost daily basis. Are headaches a part of anxiety that a patient must learn to deal with? Or are there ways that people can get relief from chronic headaches? Even though your headaches may be caused by stress and anxiety, it does not make them any less painful. You should not need to accept the pain associated with regular and chronic headaches.
There is a number of things that you can do:
Keep track of your headaches in a daily journal. Being able to supply your doctors with information about the frequency and the severity of your headaches will help them work with you on finding an appropriate treatment. In your journal, write down the following information:
- Date of headache
- Severity of headache (rate on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being highly painful)
- Where your head hurts
- What foods you ate prior to the headache
- What activities you performed prior to the headache
- Symptoms of anxiety that coincided with headache Stressful triggers
- Any other information that may be pertinent
Keeping a journal will help your doctor determine if your headaches are the result of your anxiety or if there may be another medical reason for your headaches. In addition, by tracking your headaches, you will be able to see patterns or possible triggers that may help you prevent headaches in the future.
Learn about headaches and the common treatments. There are many different types of headaches and each may have different treatment options and call for different preventive measures. Common types of headaches are: migraine, tension and sinus headaches. Your headache journal may help you and your doctor find which type of headache you are suffering from and work out a treatment plan. The Migraine section of Healthcentral.com is a good place to start and provides a great deal of information on headaches and treatments.
Talk with your doctor. Headaches can be debilitating, but are often treatable. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to speak with your doctor. Physicians should be aware of effective treatments for headaches and should take your pain seriously. If your doctor seems to be dismissive of your headaches, seek out a second opinion.
There are also a number of ways you can try to fend off a headache:
- Get a good night’s sleep. Not sleeping enough (or sleeping too much) can cause headaches. Most experts agree that an adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
- If you feel a headache developing, rest in a dark room and use a cool cloth or ice pack on your forehead.
- Use relaxation exercises, such as meditation or yoga to help de-stress.
- Find activities that are relaxing to you. This can be different for each person, for some it may be reading a book, for others it could be riding a bike or taking a walk. Other people may find activities like gardening relaxing.
Headaches don’t need to be accepted as a daily part of life. Taking steps to manage your headaches will hopefully help to reduce the number or the severity of your headaches.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.