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How to Treat Headaches Caused By Anxiety

By HERWriter
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Many women with some levels of anxiety or an anxiety disorder have probably experienced at least one headache related to that anxiety. Fortunately, there are some ways to treat and cope with these headaches.

Dr. Fran Walfish, a psychotherapist and author of “The Self-Aware Parent” in California, said in an email that women must first consult with a doctor and get a physical examination to rule out any medical causes.

“If any medical cause for headaches has been ruled out, it is then fair to assume the headache is psychologically sourced,” Walfish said. “My experience is that headaches are often brought on by unexpressed anger. The build-up of holding unexpressed anger causes a rise in anxiety. If held-in, or repressed, the anger and anxiety have no place to go but to develop a psychosomatic symptom. Some people get stomachaches and chest pain, while others develop headaches.”

She has six tips for readers on how to relieve anxiety that can cause headaches:

1) “Express your feelings in the moment. Do not harbor or save-up feelings of anger, worries, and fears.”
2) “Be kind to yourself. Cut yourself some slack. Harshly self-judging can cause a rise in anxiety.”
3) “Create an open [discussion]. Talking is the glue that holds relationships together.”
4) “Balance love/nurture with setting/holding boundaries. This is a healthy way of self-advocating. You will find yourself no longer doing things you don't want to.”
5) “Equip yourself with coping skills to deal with disappointments. We cannot protect or prevent life's disappointments. The best we can do is equip ourselves to deal with inevitable life letdowns.”
6) “Never engage in power-struggles with negotiations, bargaining, or deal-making, especially when resolving conflicts. Rather, talk about what you feel and want in the moment. This teaches self-expression and empathy.”

Catherine Zeeb, a spiritual counselor and the author of “Begendings: A New Perspective,” said in an email that breathing properly can help treat anxiety and headaches.

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EmpowHER Guest

The points are valid however I believe the article is over simplified. It may not be as easy as all that if someone is in a state where there anxiety causes them to have headaches. Like having an open discussion, there is no open discussion in an abusive relationship. Some of us, by the time we are getting headaches don't know how to treat ourselves well anymore. So what I am saying is that it may take a little more than these suggestions. 4 years post divorce and I still have a headache but I am working on it!!

August 7, 2011 - 9:43am

Great tips, Rheyanne. Number 2 is a tough one for me, but I try to be a friend to myself as often as possible. I would never treat a friend as harshly as I treat myself. Thanks for the reminders. :)

August 4, 2011 - 6:07am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.