Stress Really Does Cause Headaches
February 20, 2014

Evidence Shows More Stress Brings More Headaches

[ Watch the Video: Stress Causes Headaches ]

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

A new study being presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia from April 26 to May 3, 2014 provides even more evidence that stress really does lead to more headaches.

Researchers surveyed 5,159 people aged 21 to 71, asking questions about stress levels and headaches four times a year for two years. Participants were asked to say how many headaches they had per month and rated their stress level on a scale of zero to 100.

According to the study supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, 31 percent of participants had tension-type headaches, 14 percent had migraines, 11 percent had migraine combined with tension-type headache and 17 percent said the headache type was not classified. Those who had a tension-type headache rated their stress at an average of 52 out of 100, while those with a migraine were 62 out of 100.

The team found that for each type of headache, there was an increase in stress associated with an increase in the number of headaches per month. Those with tension headaches saw an increase of 10 points on the stress scale associated with a 6.3-percent increase in the number of headache days per month.

The number of headache days per month went up by 4.3 percent, and 4 percent for those who had a migraine and tension headache. The researchers said the findings were adjusted to help account for factors that may affect the number of headaches, like drinking, smoking and frequent use of headache drugs.

"These results show that this is a problem for everyone who suffers from headaches and emphasize the importance of stress management approaches for people with migraine and those who treat them," Sara H. Schramm, MD, of University Hospital of University Duisburg-Essen in Germany and lead author of the study being presented at the event, said in a statement. "The results add weight to the concept that stress can be a factor contributing to the onset of headache disorders, that it accelerates the progression to chronic headache, exacerbates headache episodes, and that the headache experience itself can serve as a stressor."