Obviously most of us will know of and experienced many headaches in our lifetime. However, it is important to be aware that headaches come in many forms and for a variety of different reasons – this is particularly important when relating headaches to anxiety.
A head ache can present itself as a mild to severe aching sensation, short stabbing pains across the scalp and temple, a stretching/throbbing sensation across the head and pain that seems to emanate from beneath the skull. The duration of a headache can vary as well with some headaches merely spanning an afternoon, whereas others can last for more than two weeks plus (my longest headache lasted over a month). The headaches can present as constant, they can alter in severity, they can ‘come and go’ and they can vary in response to painkillers.
Headaches can arise because of factors such as dehydration, eye strain, malnutrition, sun stroke, stress and as a symptom of another illness such as hay fever or the common cold. These name just some of the many reasons why headaches can occur.
In relation to anxiety, headaches mainly occur because of stress, muscle tension and poor posture. Stress causes our bodies to seize up and adrenaline causes our muscles to tense up. To cater for this we often and quite unknowingly alter our posture to accommodate for all of this muscle tension.
Over time poor posture – whether standing or sitting – causes the muscles on our scalp, neck and shoulders to become weathered and stretched. Our muscles are expanding and contracting all the time and the added effort of stretching against our poor posture causes aches and pains all over the head area. Imagine your scalp and shoulders being made of thin rubber and that rubber stretching as your posture curves inwards. Stretching and posture alteration is the key to alleviating head pains caused by muscle tension.
Dehydration and poor appetite are also contributing factors to a headache. The body cries out for nutrients and water and when this need isn’t met it causes a stress on the body – this can cause a headache. Furthermore, a lack of sleep (insomnia) and a poor sleeping pattern can easily cause headaches, especially when we find ourselves overly tired.