Dr Thong Jiunn Yew, Consultant Psychiatrist at Nobel Psychological Wellness Centre, Healthway Medical Group discussed how stress can cause headaches and what are some ways to prevent and reduce stress in our daily lives.
Dr Thong noted that about 10 to 20% of his patients complain of headaches. He added that stress and anxiety can predispose individuals to headaches, while depression can also cause pain symptoms, including tension headaches. He then explained how stress triggers the body’s “fight or flight response”, which can be a driving force in short bursts, but will have negative health implications if the response becomes prolonged or activated repeatedly. Symptoms of chronic stress include persistent irritability, disrupted sleep patterns, and loss of appetite. One of the reactions would also be to trigger tension headaches or exacerbate existing ones. To this end, he recommended a few steps to help find solutions to stress. These include: identifying the source of stress, seeking support from family and friends, setting achievable goals, having regular exercise and having enough sleep at night. Lastly, he advised patients who feel that their stress is overwhelming or affecting their daily lives to seek professional help from a psychologist.
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Dr Thong Jiunn Yew is a Consultant Psychiatrist with a keen interest in suicidology. He is trained in obsessive-compulsive disorders and sleep disorders.