Anxiety and headache: relationship between them and how to calm them

  • Sep 13, 2021
Anxiety and headache: relationship between them and how to calm them

Did you know that there is a strong relationship between anxiety and headache? Both are unpleasant sensations that we experience when going through a situation that causes us tension, fear or concern.

How does anxiety affect the head? What are anxiety headaches like? What part of the head hurts from anxiety? We will answer these and other questions in this Psychology-Online article. Keep reading to understand better the relationship between anxiety and headache and how to calm them.

You may also like: What to do when you have anxiety


  1. Can anxiety put pressure on the head?
  2. Why does anxiety give you a headache?
  3. What are anxiety headaches like?
  4. How long does an anxiety headache last?
  5. Is tension headache dangerous?
  6. How to calm anxiety and headaches?

Can anxiety put pressure on the head?

Yes, anxiety can cause many symptoms, including: headache, which is quite common. Anxiety can cause some physical alterations in our body, such as, for example, a feeling of pressure in the head.

In addition to the pressure on the head, anxiety can cause other symptoms, such as malaise, cold sweat, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, and other unpleasant symptoms.

Why does anxiety give you a headache?

How does anxiety affect the head? The head is one of the most sensitive and anxiety-affected parts of the body, due to its large number of muscles and nerves. Often times, spending a lot of time with tension in these muscle fibers can trigger headaches called tension headaches.

When an individual becomes anxious, muscle fibers receive a stimulation from the nervous system that keeps those fibers tautIn this way, anxiety is responsible for producing a considerable amount of tension in the body. This sensation can occur because anxiety causes the body's muscles to stretch and cause the hormone cortisol to rise.

The cortisol It is known as the stress hormone, since our body activates it in situations of fight, flight and tension. When an individual is under stress, cortisol is responsible for preparing the body for a flight response. That long-term stress response increases your risk for some health problems.

What are anxiety headaches like?

Tension headache is caused by excess muscle tension. It is characterized by being a pain in the whole head and that spreads through the neck and shoulders. Muscle tension can even be responsible for causing contractures and nodules. The muscles of the neck, head and even the eyes are tense due to a stress situation and headaches arise in response to that.

Tension headache is a typical pain of individuals who are exposed to stressful situations or people who worry a lot about everything and cannot stop thinking. These people accumulate tension throughout the day and these headaches appear as a result.

Therefore, it is understood that the tension headache has to do with a somatized emotional tension in that headache.

How long does an anxiety headache last?

Although situations that cause stress to the individual are reduced, tension headaches have resistance to disappearTherefore, one way to solve it is to look for a multidisciplinary job of psychologists, psychiatrists and physiotherapists.

Is tension headache dangerous?

It is important to mention that tension headache is not seriousContrary to migraine, which causes the individual little or no tolerance to light, sounds or smells, vomiting or nausea.

On the other hand, a headache should receive more attention when it is sudden and intense, when it causes stiffness. in the neck, when it is accompanied by fever and when it causes disorientation and difficulty in talk.

How to calm anxiety and headaches?

Currently, the routine of most of the people is full of worries, obligations and, with that, stress arises. As a result of stress or even situations that generate fear, worry and other symptoms particular to each individual, anxiety appears. Therefore, it is important to take measures that contribute to the reduction of stress and anxiety.

What should we do to calm anxiety?

  • Relaxation exercises
  • Change of habits
  • Rest
  • To do physical exercises
  • Distract yourself with music
  • Laugh (laughter relieves stress)
  • Meditation
  • Seek psychological support
  • Stress management strategies
  • Relaxation techniques

What should we do to calm the headache?

  • Close the eyes
  • Massaging the lateral parts of the head
  • Take a warm shower
  • Get enough hours of sleep
  • Receive a massage (including tension areas: neck and shoulders)
  • Drinking water
  • Learn strategies that reduce anxiety
  • Eat quality foods (containing vitamins)

Remember that it is impossible to avoid stress every day, but with some changes in attitude you can improve the way you deal with adversity.

The sensations caused by anxiety often damage the day to day, resulting in difficulties in managing one's life. Therefore, it is interesting to do a self-evaluation on the need to go to the psychiatrist for the prescription of an anxiolytic. Good as understand and recognize the importance of going to a psychologist for with the aim of improving the symptoms and causes of anxiety.

Here is a video to start practicing relaxation.

This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to Anxiety and headache: relationship between them and how to calm them, we recommend that you enter our category of Clinical psychology.


  • American Psychiatric Association. (2014). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Porto Alegre: Artmed.
  • Jensen, R.H. (2018). Tension-type headache - the normal and most prevalent headache. Headache; 58 (2): pp. 339 – 345.
  • Mayo Clinic. (2021). Headache: decrease stress to prevent pain. Recovered from:
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