Many people struggle with mental illness, and many symptoms come with these mental health issues. Headaches are common symptoms that people experience alongside their mental health struggles, and looking into the correlation between them will help us find ways to mitigate these effects. Read on to learn how headache affects your mental health, and consider what lifestyle changes you could make to ensure your head is pain-free.
What Causes a Headache?
Headaches occur for various reasons, but one of the primary causes is the reaction to chemicals surging through the brain. Your brain is a distribution center for various chemicals that flow through the body and cause reactions. If you have too many chemicals flowing through the blood vessels of the brain, it will cause pain, especially when your blood vessels tighten due to other triggers.
Stress is one of the most common causes of headaches due to the tightening of muscles in the neck and head that restrict blood flow. The smaller path for the chemicals and blood to flow creates a throbbing pain that you may feel every time blood pumps from the heart.
Anxiety Disorders and Headaches
For people who experience constant anxiety, headaches are a common part of life. When you feel anxiety, the body enters fight or flight mode and releases various hormones.
Cortisol is a hormone released with stress, and it causes the blood vessels to narrow. Then, the release of adrenaline causes the heart to beat faster and your blood to pump quickly. This combination increases pressure in the blood, which results in the pain of a headache.
Depression and Headaches
Chronic depression isn’t always the cause of headaches, as the pain could relate to a secondary source, but they are common with depressive episodes. When you feel depressed, your body lacks serotonin, which is a hormone that heightens your mood.
Due to this, the brain may send endorphins through your system that reduce the physical and emotional pain. This rush of chemicals could cause headaches when in large amounts. Other causes of headaches, including stress and pain, may trigger depression, worsening your headache symptoms. It forms a never-ending loop.
What Could I Change To prevent them?
The best way to prevent your mental health from headache is to find ways to manage your mental state. If you feel depressed, find activities that boost your serotonin. Go for a walk, paint a picture, listen to music, dance, or exercise to kickstart that good feeling.
If you have anxiety, you may need to find ways to relax. Meditation is a great way to manage anxiety; numerous exercises will help you refocus and loosen your tension. Committing to a workout routine will also help you feel less anxious and improve your physical health.
A better mind and healthy body will prevent you from feeling a throbbing in your head. Consider how headaches affects your mental health and keep yourself in a better head space to get back to living your life pain-free.
Dianne Pajo is a writer based out of the Chicagoland area with a passion for music, combat sports, and animals. She enjoys competing in amateur boxing and kickboxing, but in her other leisure time, you can find her performing music around the city. She is also a dog mom of 2.