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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Muscle Contraction Headaches

02/13/2006

Question:

I am 50 years male serving as executive in public sector company. I am hypertensive with LVH Mild Cerebral Atrophy and Right Parietal Lacunar Infarction LVEF 0.65% I am on Atenolol 100 Losartan 100 Amlodipine 10 mg. In the light of the above background, I state that of late I started having severe headache and while trying antibiotic pain killer etc., I consulted Neurophysician who after thorough check up diogised as MUSCLE CONTRACTION HEADACHE and suggested Escitolopram 10 mg with Clonazepam 0.5 mg once a day. Basically, I am under stress particularly on family front. While the Lexapro has relieved of my headache, yet sliightest disturbance in family induce headache. The doctor says that my brain muscle gets contracted in a stressfull situation which induce headache. Please guide me properly. Thanks and regards.

Answer:

It sounds like you have done a lot of the right things seeing your doctor and getting an evaluation.  I am not able to make any comments about the correctness of your diagnosis or your treatment, as this is not possible over the internet.  However, it does sound like you are having some stressful situations at home, and your health could benefit from learning some stress reduction techniques.

Some stressful situations can be addressed, changed and the stress reduced.  Some cannot.  Regardless, there are simple techniques you can do so the stress does not affect you as much physically and emotionally.

First, become aware of your own reactions to stress.  While your obvious symptom may be a headache, perhaps there are smaller things that are happening sooner that you can use as cues to yourself -- jaw clenching, tight fists, moving faster, angry thoughts, etc.

Recognize and accept your limits -- especially as to what you can change and what you cannot.  You cannot change what your family members do or say, you can only change your reaction.  Accepting this is a first step towards not getting stressed over it.

Keep yourself healthy by exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet daily and getting plenty of sleep at night.  Avoiding excess alcohol, caffeine and any tobacco or nicotine products is also important.

Set realistic goals and priorities -- both for your family interactions and your work situation.  Sometimes work frustrations spill over into the home situation, where the symptoms and tensions are finally released.

Talk with someone you can trust about your worries and problems.  This may be a friend, family member, religious or spiritual leader or a paid professional, like a counselor or a therapist.  Having this support is important.

Practice relaxation techniques.  This can be a regular practice of yoga, meditation or other methods, or can just be slow, regular breathing and counting to 10 during times of tenseness or stress.

Good Luck.

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati