Tension headaches occur when neck and scalp muscles become tense, or contract. The muscle contractions can be a response to stress, depression, a head injury, and anxiety.
They may occur at any age, but are most common in adults and adolescents.
If a headache occurs two or more times a week for several months or longer, the condition is considered chronic. Chronic daily headaches can result from the under- or over-treatment of a primary headache.
In chronic tension-type headaches:
- No vomiting
- No moderate or severe nausea
- No more than one of the following symptoms: Mild nausea, photophobia, or phonophobia
- Some types of chronic tension headache may include tenderness upon manual palpitation of the head (pericranial tenderness).
Rebound headaches are headaches that keep coming back. They may occur when pain medicines are overused.
Amitriptyline is the medicine most commonly used to prevent tension-type headaches. This is not a painkiller and so does not take away a headache if a headache develops. It is an antidepressant medicine and you have to take it every day with the aim of preventing headaches.