Emotional stress is one of the most common triggers of migraines and tension headaches

Stress is your reaction to any change that requires you to adjust or respond. It’s important to remember that you can control stress, because stress comes from how you respond to stressful events.

Emotional stress is one of the most common triggers of  migraines and tension headaches ( stress headaches). Migraine sufferers are generally found to be more emotional and highly affected by stressful events. During stressful events certain chemicals in the  brain are released to combat the situation (known as the ‘fight or flight’ response). The release of these chemicals can provoke blood vessel changes that can cause migraine headaches.

Stress is also an important factor in tension headaches. Tension headaches can either be episodic or chronic. Episodic tension headache is usually triggered by an isolated stressful situation or a build-up of stress; it can usually be treated by over-the-counter  painkillers. Daily stress such as from a high-pressure job can lead to chronic tension headaches. Treatment for chronic tension headaches usually involves  stress management, counselling, and possibly the use of antidepressant or anxiety reducing  medication.


Stress management involves learning to be able to control stress and relax.  Everyone has periods of stress. Stress has benefits in that it can result in us pushing ourselves and getting things done.  This can precipitate a headache.  Simply taking some deep breaths and maybe tensing then relaxing your muscles can relieve occasional mild stress.  Regular stress may require learning to say “no”, not taking too much on.  Becoming fit, eating regularly, and proper sleep can help combat stress.  Learn better organizing skills, not setting standards that are too high and deal with problems as they arise, can all help.  As can, adopting stress management techniques such as meditation, biofeedback, relaxation therapy and yoga.


Leave a Comment