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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is stress causing my headaches?

    About 2-3 times a week I experiencing painful headaches on the sides of my head. They usually occur during the afternoon when I am at work and I am unable to focus. Could they be caused by stress?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Anthony Berrick

    Psychologist

    Yes. Stress CAN cause ‘tension headaches’ which result from tightness of the muscles of the head, face or neck. Often, when we are stressed, we tense up certain muscles without even realising it. Over time, this leads to muscle soreness and commonly results in neck pain, back pain, and headaches.

    However, there are lots of other possible causes of headaches. Best to speak to your GP about your symptoms and let them make a proper diagnosis. They may even refer you to other specialists (e.g. neurologist) for further tests. If it turns out that your headaches are caused by stress, then a psychologist may be able to help you get some relief.

    All the best.

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  • I am a Melbourne Relationship Counsellor and Family Lawyer who is skilful in helping people get out of the pain of relationship distress and create ... View Profile

    Hello!

    Headaches are so debilitating and I'm sorry that you are having these painful headaches as often as 2-3 times a week. One of the difficulties with diagnosing the causes of headaches is that they are are often multifactorial. Howver, that said, stress is a common cause of headaches.

    We all experience pressures in life but how we react to them determines whether or not this can be labelled as stress. As said above, it is important to eliminate all other causes by having a thorough medical check up. Once you are pretty sure that stress is the cause then you can set about changing your response to pressure. There is alot you can do in this regard.

    Practicing slow and deep breathing for a few rounds each hour at work is just one suggestion. Drinking plenty of water is another which will help keep you hydrated and you could practice doing that in a mindful and aware way. Perhaps you have what's known as a migrainous nervous system and you need to take extra care that you get plenty of sleep and at regular times. Meditation is another option.There is so much you can do to help yourself in this regard. So best get checked out and then start putting into practice some new habits to alleviate the stress. It could also be helpful to do some exploration around what is actually happening for you at work (a therapist can be helpful here). We can't change everything but when we break it down it can be surprising what we can change!

    Good luck , Margie

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