Anxiety can cause some unusual symptoms. Most people think anxiety is only nausea, tension, and the occasional rapid heartbeat. But anxiety can cause some very strange, very unique symptoms that leave many people unprepared. It’s not uncommon for generalized anxiety and panic attacks to cause health worries, because the symptoms of anxiety often mimic those of very real and very serious ilnnesses.
One of the best examples of this is the anxiety headache. Most people think of headaches as a sign of a cold, flu, or migraine – and certainly, it’s always a good idea to get checked out by a doctor when you have a headache you’re worried about – but anxiety is also a very common cause of headaches in those with moderate to severe anxiety.
Why Does Anxiety Cause Headaches?
Anxiety is essentially intense stress, and stress causes tension headaches. Researchers are still unclear why stress leads to tension headaches, but it likely has to do with the muscles in and around your eyes and head tensing as a result of your stress and anxiety. It may also be somewhat related to the way that stress alters your body chemistry.
Regardless of the cause, when you have anxiety headaches, you need to do your best to treat them in order to continue on your day. Most headaches – even those from tension – don’t simply disappear right away. Headaches have a tendency to linger and fade over time. But the following should decrease the severity of your headaches and hopefully relieve some of the symptoms:
- Taking a Warm Shower – Warm showers are an effective way to relieve some muscle tension. Showers relax muscles, and the steam may also benefit your sinuses and other areas of your body that can contribute to headaches. If a warm shower isn’t possible, a warm towel may help – especially if the tension is closer to your eyes.
- Head Massage – Rubbing your temples with your eyes closed can be very beneficial. Push in as hard as you can comfortably and rub your temples in a circular motion for several minutes. This may relieve some of the head pressure you’re experiencing.
- Drink Water – In some cases, dehydration can contribute to the severity of your tension headache. Drinking a glass of cool water may help to relieve that tension, even if it doesn’t deal with the stress directly. Some people find drinking a large glass of water to be fairly calming as well.
- Get a Massage – If you have someone in your life that is willing to massage your head, neck, and shoulders, take advantage of it. Someone else’s hands can be more relaxing than your own hands when it comes to rubbing your temples, and in some cases a good backrub around the neck and shoulders can be a great way to help cure anxiety.
- Find a Mental Distraction – Headaches can make it hard to focus on the tasks you need to complete. You find yourself thinking too much about your headaches and the pain they cause. Positive, upbeat mental distractions – like a humorous podcast or a comedy television show – may help. They focus your mind on something other than your pain, and that decreases the anxiety you experience as a result of your pain.
The key to reducing anxiety headaches is to fight your anxiety, and that involves long term anxiety reduction strategies, like therapy or some type of intervention. Until then, it’s not a bad idea to use the above tips to relieve some of the severity of your headache, so that you have an easier time going about your life until you successfully cure your anxiety.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera had severe, regular tension headaches when he suffered from anxiety. He has a website about living with anxiety at www.calmclinic.com.