You may have heard it said that a little bit of stress is good for us. It keeps us alert, awake and can give us a burst of adrenaline energy.

But what happens when we have too much stress in our lives?

Could too much stress in our lives be a concern or a cause for some of our health problems, but what I really want to know, in particular, is can stress cause migraine headaches?


What is Stress and How Does It Affect Us?

Stress is defined in the dictionary as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”.

Have you ever heard someone say “… they are under a lot of stress” before. This is a comment usually made when we notice someone who doesn’t seem to be coping with everyday life. Their personality and usual behavior can change dramatically and they can become angry, moody, disconnected and even depressed.

It might be many little problems or a few really big problems they are encountering within their life, but these stresses can build up and really have a significant impact on a persons health and ability to cope with further stress.

Where Does Stress Come From?

We encounter many different stresses in our daily lives. Some of these stresses within our environment may come from our work situation, finances, moving home, relationships, children and family, health, and many other daily life things.

But how we deal with these stresses are really important. Every person has a different threshold when it comes to stress. What has an effect on one person may not necessarily affect another person. Some people have a capacity for handling large amounts of stress and others do not.

When we encounter too much stress how does this stress overload affect our bodies and hormones levels? Can this be a contributing cause to the onset of a migraine headache?


Is Stress Causing My Headaches and Migraines

Stress can be a cause of headaches and Migraines. When you become stressed it can cause a headache to intensify and it could definitely cause an awful painful headache or turn into a full-blown stress-induced migraine headache, especially if you are a person who regularly suffers from migraine headaches.

Stress also has some symptoms that are very similar to the symptoms of a migraine headache, like nausea, concentration difficulty, muscle tension, sleeping problems, and tiredness.

Symptoms of High Stress:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Feelings of nausea and stomach aches
  • Feeling generally unwell
  • The tension in the muscles (particularly head, neck and shoulder area)
  • Insomnia or other sleeping problems
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed and overloaded
  • Excessive fatigue and tiredness
  • Frequent illness, and cold sores due to a compromised immune system
  • Feelings of anxiety, worry, and panic
  • Chest pains, heartburn, rapid pulse, high blood pressure
  • Teeth clenching and grinding
  • Frequent and unexplained mood swings
  • Dramatic changes in appetite and body weight

As you can see from this list above, headaches can form part of the stress symptoms and if you are a person who is likely to suffer from Migraines, these stress-induced symptoms can easily be associated with a migraine headache.



Symptoms of a Migraine Headache:

  • Feeling overly tired and irritable
  • A dull consistent head pain
  • Throbbing pain in one area of the head
  • Stiff, tight feeling in the shoulders, neck or face
  • Blocked and sensitive sinuses
  • A pain at the back of the eyes
  • Eyes can feel very sensitive to light
  • Vision is blotchy, sometimes with flashes of light
  • Sensitivity to a lot of sounds
  • Dizziness and sometimes vertigo
  • Feelings of nausea and sometimes vomiting




Stress-Induced Migraine Headaches – Hormones and Headaches!

There have been numerous studies done on migraine headaches, and there is still so much yet to be learned.

There are many different triggers that can be the cause of stress-induced migraine headaches. People who suffer from stress-migraines may need to look at ways in which to reduce their stress levels so that they can reduce the occurrences of their migraines.

Its thought that approximately 10% of people may suffer from migraines at one time or another. A migraine is generally caused by chemicals in the brain that narrow the blood vessels.

When we have feelings of stress the body releases “stress hormones” into the body and the brain. These hormones were initially part of our survival instincts, so we could react quickly to any kind of threatening situation. Unfortunately, these stress hormones continuously being released over a long-term period of time, due to continual stresses, can have some negative health effects. One of these health issues is headaches and migraine headaches.


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There are three main hormones that are released during times of stress. These are Adrenaline, Cortisol, and Norepinephrine.

Cortisol has the nickname of “the stress hormone” and it is released by the adrenaline gland.  Norepinephrine helps blood go to the areas you need it for survival in a threatening situation and takes blood away from the less vital areas. Adrenaline (Epinephrine) also know as the “fight or flight” hormone is released into the bloodstream and increases a persons heart rate, which can cause high blood pressure.

Migraine headaches are more likely to occur after the body’s stress response has already occurred. When these stress hormone levels are dropping back down again and the response can sometimes be a migraine headache due to the changing hormone levels.


Reducing Stress and Occurrences of Stress-Induced Migraine headaches?

  • Eating healthier (avoiding fatty foods and food high in sugar)
  • Avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol, and smoking cigarettes (nicotine).
  • Exercise regularly during stressful times (releases tension in the muscles)
  • Meditation and yoga (relaxes the mind and exercises the body)
  • Try and get more rest and sleep at night. (Magnesium can help get better sleep and reduce stress)
  • If your feeling overloaded make sure you don’t take on more responsibility (Learn to say “NO”)
  • Relaxation time away from the stress environment
  • Meditation and Deep Breathing (helps relax muscles and feelings of stress)
  • Talk to Someone is something is affecting us (have you heard the saying “a problem shared is a problem halved”)

Some Vitamins and Minerals Can Help Us Cope With Stress

Sometimes stress cannot be avoided. Our bodies need extra care while we are coping with these difficult times in our lives. Some vitamins are known to help us cope better with the stress and this can also help us reduce the occurrences of those stress-related migraines.



Everyone handles stress differently. Some people can cope with and handle fairly high levels of stress, while others cannot. Unfortunately over a long period of time and if the high levels of stress continue, it can become increasingly unhealthy.

I know that when I need a break I try to get out for a walk at the beach or park.

Some timeout to meditate and relax my thoughts and just slow down this busy lifestyle we have all come accustomed to living.



Safety First! If you have a Medical Condition, are taking any Medications, are Pregnant or Breastfeeding, please remember that you should always consult with your doctor prior to taking any supplements or using any herbal or natural remedies of any kind. Some herbal or dietary supplements could interfere or react with other medications.





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    • Yes Tina, Prolonged stress can be a cause of many health problems. it is important to identify why you are getting migraines and then you can take steps towards a migraine management program. Thank you for reading and commenting on my post.

    • HI Chris, thank you for your comment. You are very lucky to not have experienced migraines. Unfortunately, a lot of people do and identifying the cause can help them make steps towards reducing these occurrences or getting relief to minimise the intensity. Blessings and gratitude always Mary

  1. Great post.
    Thanks for your different tips on stress management.
    I also love that you cautioned those taking meds including pregnant and breastfeeding women to consult their doctors first, because drug-drug reaction could be very fatal.

    • Hi Vanessa, Thank you for your comments. I agree with you that it is really important to always take care when it involves health care and managing other medications and health conditions. A medical Professional should always be consulted to ensure that you’re not going to cause harm to yourself or if pregnant your baby. Please come back soon and enjoy more tips on how to manage migraine pain naturally. Mary

  2. I use to get migraine headaches a lot when I was teaching elementary grades. The pain was really excruciating. Sorry I did not know about all these tips. My best remedy was to darken my room, put pressure on the spot and go to sleep. Even though I don’t get migraine anymore, I have friends who suffer from it. I know this post will help them. For sure I will share it.

    • Hi Carol, Yes, migraines can come and go throughout life. I have had times when they seem to have disappeared and then times when they come back to me. I really hope I can help others who have experienced migraines too and help them find their triggers and give them some natural and easy ways to help them deal with this condition. Thank you for looking at my posts and passing my site onto those who may benefit from this information. Gratitude and Blessings Mary

  3. Life worries and stress can cause migraine due to the increased chemical imbalance in the brain , the strange one I have heard is that it can be hereditary but I am not sure. it is important to identify why you are getting migraines and then you can take steps towards a migraine management program. Thank you for posting

    • Hi there Padedayo, thank you for reading my article on stress related migraines. 

      Yes I do agree with you, stress is part of life and the ever changing life conditions that we encounter. Managing our stresses that are cause migraines is very important. I do not believe it is hereditary, although a couple of studies suggest it could be otherwise, but the studies I read were no conclusive. In saying this my mother gets migraines and I do as well, but other members of the family do not. It may just be a condition that some people are more likely to get than others. Identifying the cause of your migraines does help you manage them better. 

      If your looking for help to manage your migraine health without taking pain killers and over the counter pharmacy medications then I offer suggestions through a number of my articles on ways to reduce migraines tha thave worked for me. 

      If you are getting severe headaches or migraines you should see your health care professional so that they can ensure that there is no other underlying causes to your migraines. Thank you for visiting my site and please come back soon to learn of different ways to manage migraine pain. Mary

  4. This article touched my heart because I have a good friend who suffers from bad migraines due to work stress. Hers get so bad that she would lose appetite, and even vomit several times a day. She has to have medication to control her migraines, which I’m sure isn’t the healthiest option.

    What I find most useful in your article is the vitamins and minerals that can help us cope with stress. I’ll definitely be pointing my friend to your website, it is exactly what she needs. 

    • Hi Joo, Thanks you for your comments and reading my article. Yes, Migraines can be really difficult to find the triggers and medications taken long term aren’t great for the body. I would love it if you send your friend my website as it may have some information that can help her. I have had similar problems with migraines over the years and they can be debilitation. The important thing is to find the migraine triggers. Every person if different in this respect but I woudl like to mention that there is a fantastic free app I am currently using to help me record my migraine health called “Migraine Buddy”. Its free and can help you and your health care professional find the cause of your migraines by recording all the things that happen leading up to the migraines and then what remedies have worked to give you relief. Have a look at this article where I have mentioned the App.  https://migrainenaturalremedie…  I hope your friend finds some relief soon. Blessings and Gratitude Mary

  5. I definitely have a couple of the symptoms of stress, such as tension in my neck and shoulder area, excessive tiredness due to sleeping problems and am convinced this is leading to my headaches. Especially after I get home from work from a day that I put in extra hours, the headache turns into a migraine almost every time. I’ll try the vitamins you suggest and I like what you said about learning to say “No”. And thanks for all those other suggestions.

    • Hi Lev, I am really pleased that you found some helpful information in my article on Stress and Migraines. Its important to identify what the cause of the migraines are and if your in need of help if your overtired and stressed and this is causing you migraine problems. Its also important to find ways to relax and relieve the stress and if this is the cause of your migraines you should find some relief when the stress is reduced. if the stress is reduced and your still getting migraines ensure that you see a help care professional to check out there is no other underlying cause to the migraines. Wishing you the best of health always. Mary

  6. Hi there,

    i just read your article on Can Stress Cause Migraine Headaches? which is really interesting i love reading it. You have given many remedies that ow a person came out of these. I thing is not good foe your health even it is a little bit, this little stress is than change to big one and take us to the depression. Which is very dangerous. but the solutions you provided are really cool.


    • Hi Eric, thank you for reading my article on stress related migraine headaches. I’m so pleased you found it interesting and helpful. Stress has some awful long term effects on a persons health, and migraines are just a part of being over-stressed. If a person is suffering regular migraines and is also suffering from depression its very important they see their professional health carer to help them to manage their condition. But if they need helping manage migraines naturally and also reducing their stress through meditation, exercise and relaxation techniques, it may also help improve other aspects of their health at the same time. Wishing you the best of health. Mary

  7. I had a feeling that stress caused migraines. I sometimes feel headaches when I feel overworked or overwhelmed but I sometimes can’t shake it off. Thank you for including things to do to relieve stress, I’ve never tried meditation but it’s something I should look into. I love to workout and I’m glad that’s one thing that can reduce stress. 

    • Hi Victor, I am so glad my post has been able to help you identify your stress trigger. Its great that you exercise to reduce your stress and that you know how to manage this part of your life. Meditate is great for focus as well as health benefits so let me know how you go and if you need any help finding guided meditations that help with stress reduction. Best regards Mary

  8. Hi,

    Thanks so much for sharing a good article to know more about why and how migraine headaches can be produced,

    I’ve suffered migraine headaches since I was a teenager, today I can say I have less and less and I’ve learn how to avoid it with success, but it’s always good to know more about this topic to learn more about how I can keep myself far from it.

    I will pay more attention to the stress in my life and I will check if when I suffer a migraine headache is because of stress or something else. I use to mark down on a calendar when I have it so I can know if the migraine headache is regular on dates on because of something is going on in my life.

    I’m glad I found your website to read and to know more about this topic, I’m sure your articles will help me to live better. 

    • Hi Alejandra, thanks for coming along to my site and reading one of my articles on Migraine headaches. Stress is a very difficult symptom for many people suffering migraines as its something that they don’t know how to reduce easily and it is something that can take time to reduce. Migraines are a big indicator for those that are suffereing stress that something is really wrong and needs a change to help them combat these symptoms. I am glad rto hear that you are not suffering migraines so much now days and that your able to get some relief from the frequency of migrianes. Its a great idea to create a health diary to find when the migraines are appearing in your life. I found a wonderful app called migraine buddy which helps you record all your migraine dates, triggers, symptoms, intensity and recovery. The app is free and can help you learn more about your migraine health. With gratitude always, Mary.

  9. Ngonidzashe Manzwangani

    My wife has a problem of migraine headache, she rarely can spend a week without suffering from this disease.

    You helped me a lot, your article has awesome info. You wrote on the ways we can reduce stress only, does this mean stress cannot be cured? I am afraid, the headache is just but too much, she can’t do anything.

    Thank you so much for great info  

    • HI Ngonidzashe, Thank you for reading my post on stress and its relationship to migraines. Unfortunately stress cannot be fully eliminated from a persons life, but it can be reduced by taking steps to refocus and relax when things are getting on top of us, instead of just adding to the stress symptoms you already have.  Stress is not the only factor for migraines causes, so perhaps your wife may like to keep a record her health and find what is triggering her migraines. These is a good FREE app for recording migraines called “Migraine Buddy” that may help her to find her migraine triggers and see where the stress is coming from in her life. I am currently trialling the app myself. Always remember that you should see a Health Professional to ensure that there is no other underlying issues when you are suffering from regular headaches and migraines. I hope your wife finds some relief soon. Mary

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