Headaches are common for people living with anxiety.
Headaches are a common symptom of anxiety disorders. Chronic headaches and migraines are even more common. These painful conditions can produce distressing physical and emotional symptoms and interfere with a person’s life. In this way, chronic headaches and migraines can cause or worsen anxiety. The reverse is also true: anxiety can cause or worsen headaches. It’s a vicious cycle.
Patients with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder are especially vulnerable to migraines. People who get migraines often find that their headaches become more frequent and more severe during times of increased stress; for many migraine patients, stress can be a trigger. Adrenaline can also trigger migraines, and adrenaline rises in response to anxiety.
Anxiety can lead to an aptly named tension headache. When we’re anxious, it triggers our body’s stress response, which causes the muscles to tighten. Muscle tension and muscle spasms triggered by stress can lead to headaches as well as back and shoulder aches.
Some medications used to treat anxiety can also be beneficial for treating migraines or other headache disorders. Exercise, healthy diet, good sleep hygiene, and stress-relieving activities like yoga and meditation can help anxiety sufferers, headache sufferers, and those of us who suffer from both conditions, as well.