How do tension-type headaches develop?

How do tension-type headaches develop?

How do tension-type headaches develop?

Tension-type headaches are primary headaches.

That’s good news! This means no other disease is the reason for the headaches. That being said, it is not easy to find out what causes tension-type headaches, because it is different for every person.

There are always several factors that play a role in the development of tension-type headaches!

An important factor is physical predisposition – or more precisely, genes. Some children are prone to headaches. For them, it is enough to add a few other factors for tension-type headaches to develop. Other children are not susceptible at all. They can have a bunch of factors and still not get tension-type headaches.

Your thoughts, feelings, and social environment (family, friends, school) also play an important role. When you feel stressed, worried or afraid, if you are having problems with friends, family or at school, tension-type headaches can develop.

How are tension-type headaches related to stress?

Stressful situations or unpleasant feelings (e.g. frustration, fear, anger) trigger what we call the “fight or flight response”.

What is the "fight or flight response”?
Steinzeit-Ei wird bedroht
A long time ago…

…in the Stone Age… If our ancestors suddenly encountered a saber-toothed tiger while picking berries, they would have had to be on high alert. A saber-toothed tiger was a deadly threat to humans.

The possibilities to get out of this situation alive were to fight, to run away fast or to climb a tree. All three options required a lot of strength and alertness.

That’s why our ancestors’ bodies learned to release special hormones super fast in threatening situations. These hormones cause the muscles to become tense so that people could fight or flee in the best way possible.

After the human escaped the saber-toothed tiger, the muscles could relax again.

How does the “fight or flight response” work today?
Ei wird angeschrien

…when you get into a threatening or stressful situation, your body still does exactly the same as the bodies of our ancestors: It engages the “fight or flight response”!

BUT a few things are different today. You don’t have to fight your teacher or run away from a class assignment. Yet, your body becomes tense, and this tension does not subside right away.

In this situation you experience things in the environment (like the saber-toothed tiger!) and in your body (e.g. pain) very intensely. You then perceive tension in your neck or forehead as a headache, for example. When you are relaxed or not really paying attention to your body, you wouldn’t even notice this muscle tension.

How can I shut off the "fight or flight response”?
Ei bleibt cool

…you can’t shut the response off. But you can try to trick it!

There are two things you can do:

  1. Reduce stressful situations
  2. Relieve tension

On the following page you will learn what to do when you have a nasty tension-type headache.

On the following page you will learn what to do when you have a nasty tension-type headache.

What can you do to relieve tension-type headaches?

Click here for more information! You will learn what you can do against tension-type headaches.

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Tension-type headache

Go back here. You’ll find information on the most common type of headache, the tension-type headache.

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