There is no doubt that this year has been stressful for everyone. From a health crisis to protests against injustice, it is not an ideal situation to live stress-free. Even those who were saved from the coronavirus also experienced the trouble of living under a constant threat of infection, isolation period, and quarantine. Many people who tested negative reported a recurring headache during the quarantine period which doesn’t go away without medicines.
The health experts call this headache which comes and goes during the quarantine period are induced by stress. Although it may sound odd these headaches can be so bad that it can’t let a person do his routine work. In addition to this, the increased screen time has made it worse. But how to know if this pain is linked with pandemic stress?
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 3/4th of people between the age of 18 years to 65 years to be suffering from headaches. Nearly 30% of them had migraines and 4% of people experienced headaches that lasted for more than two weeks.
For some reason, women are three times more likely to get migraines as compared to men. Also, migraines are the third most common disease in the world. But can stress really cause headaches and migraines?
It is clear that migraines are typically caused by hormonal changes and two hormones, cortisol and estrogen are more involved in them than the rest. Any changes in the levels of these two can cause a headache.
Mia T. Minen from NYU Langone Medical Center (NYC) is a headache medicine who has explained this connection between migraines and different psychiatric conditions such as stress, depression, PTSD, anxiety disorder, etc.
Increases stress can affect the body’s cortisol levels and induce headaches. And a decrease in cortisol levels can also do the same. Anxiety can also cause headaches and these headaches can also cause anxiety in a person. This role is two way, instead of the common perception that it is one way.
In addition to this, some neurotransmitters are also linked with headaches and a number of other psychiatric conditions such as depression. Changing the activity of these neurotransmitters can also trigger a headache, Dr. Minen says.
During stressful times such as the quarantine period, it is common for people to experience stress-linked headaches. Some people are also likely to show other symptoms such as grinding the teeth or biting the nails when they are stressed. Talking to a doctor, in all these conditions is the best way to get over this pandemic stress.
Headaches have many times and stress-linked headache is only one of them. It may be hard to identify the type of headache that one person experiences and sometimes many of them happen together.
Migraines typically show up as extreme pain, light-sensitivity, noise-sensitivity, and nausea.
These symptoms are tricky and they can stop people to involve in daily activities. The stress-linked headache is somehow less harmful than other headaches and a person may not experience sensitivity to light.
Instead of identifying which type of headache a person has, the focus should be more on how to control it so that it doesn’t hinder a person’s ability to work and function. If a person experiences these headaches, try talking to a doctor and know all the possible treatments or options which may help.