Psychosomatics of Headaches and Their Causes

“We often say, ‘This is giving me a headache,’ during conversations, not realizing it’s not just a figure of speech, but a literal truth. The head can ache due to nerves. And until the psychological cause is addressed, pills will only provide temporary relief, masking the symptom, not eliminating its cause. Psychosomatics of headaches can explain this in more detail.

Two Types of Development of Psychosomatic Headaches

There are several types of headaches of a nervous nature:

  • Hypertensive. Occurs due to increased blood pressure as a result of overstrain. It is felt as a circumferential pressing pain, sensitive to stress and weather changes. Stronger in the morning.
  • Hypotonic. Arises from lowered blood pressure. Sensitive to weather changes and emotional shocks. Manifests as a pressing pain in the back of the head, accompanied by dizziness (psychosomatics says that dizziness corresponds to the phrase ‘my head is spinning from problems’).
  • Vegetovascular. Occurs due to weakness and spasm of blood vessels.
  • Inflammatory. Accompanies a cold. Covers the whole head, accompanied by body aches.
  • Spasmodic. Arises because the muscle tone increases, and they compress the vessels. This happens in neuroses, chronic stress.
  • Hormonal. More common in women before menstruation, during menopause, pregnancy, and other situations where the hormonal background changes (due to the specifics of the pituitary gland).
  • Migraine. Occurs on one side, affecting the temporal area, forehead, neck, eye. The pain is very severe. Accompanied by increased sensitivity to external stimuli.

Interesting! Women experience migraines 3–5 times more often than men.

Cephalgia develops in two types: due to external factors and internal factors. Let’s look at them in more detail.

External Factors

The main external factor is stress (reaction to external irritants). At this time, muscles tense up, the body prepares for defense. The digestive and urinary systems slow down, but the circulatory system works more actively. Blood pressure rises, adrenaline is produced. This causes cephalgia. The perception of stress is subjective, so it’s impossible to say which situation will be critical for which person. Examples of negative external factors:

  • Accidents;
  • Illnesses;
  • Incidents;
  • Conflicts at home and at work;
  • Unloved jobs;
  • Disturbing news;
  • Death of a loved one;
  • Divorce;
  • Dismissal. Interesting! Cephalgia is one of the most common symptoms, with 90% of patients complaining of it. It can accompany hundreds of diseases or be a side effect of medication. Therefore, a full diagnosis is recommended.

Internal Factors

Internal factors are closely related to external ones. We’re talking about suppressed emotions, unspoken thoughts, unsatisfied desires, and needs. Internal dissatisfaction, contradictions, pangs of conscience, psychological trauma, resentment, guilt, complexes, inability to stand up for one’s opinion – all turn into muscle blocks, compressing vessels and nerves. Example: a woman doesn’t want intimacy with her husband but can’t say it directly. Then she goes around it and subconsciously provokes cephalgia.

Moreover, cephalgia can arise against the background of neuroses and mental disorders, such as anxieties, depressions, phobias.

Psychosomatics of Headache in Children

In children, illness always serves one of three purposes – to attract parents’ attention, receive parents’ love, or express protest. Cephalgia in children is often a protest against overprotective parenting or authoritarian upbringing with many prohibitions. Other reasons for headaches in children (psychosomatics):

  • Jealousy of a younger brother or sister (trying to attract attention);
  • Conflicts and fights between parents;
  • Violence in the family, including towards the child;
  • Parents’ divorce;
  • Moving to a new place;
  • Changing schools;
  • Other changes in usual conditions and lifestyle.

In adolescence, vegetovascular dystonia often develops. The prerequisites are hormonal changes, chronic stress, conflicts with peers and parents, difficulties in studies. The entire adolescent period is stressful, so vascular spasms in this case are not uncommon.

Significance of Headaches from a Psychological Point of View

Psychosomatically, headaches are a signal of internal problems, mental anguish, disruption of harmony in a person’s relationship with themselves and the world. The symptom indicates that you are on the brink of exhaustion. Your brain is constantly working and needs rest.

Causes of Psychosomatic Headache

Cephalgia is related to stress, overexertion, and internal experiences. External and internal, physical, and psychological factors contribute. Let’s look more closely at popular factors causing cephalgia.

Excess or Lack of Sleep

Both a deficit and an excess of sleep disrupt the healthy hormonal balance in the body. Melatonin suppresses stress hormones. If a person does not get enough sleep, they become irritable, and if they sleep too much, they become sluggish and apathetic. Both negatively affect productivity, relationships in the family, and at work.

Recent Stress

After resolving a prolonged conflict or a strong emotional shock, a dull, aching, pressing pain may occur. This is a consequence of blood pressure and hormone fluctuations.

Mental and Physical Fatigue

Occurs in 80% of cases. The discomfort is not strong but constant. This leads to nervousness and irritability.


Depression and any other disorder are prolonged stress. Cephalgia is a natural and inseparable companion.

Suppressed Emotions

Unexpressed emotions and feelings (both positive and negative) turn into toxins that negatively affect physical and mental health.


The heartbeat quickens, blood pressure rises, self-control weakens – a stressful situation indeed. Constant fear can turn into panic attacks, which are accompanied by a feeling of suffocation, headaches, and dizziness.

Dissatisfaction with Surroundings and Life

Resentment, anger, irritation, rage, the desire for revenge accumulate and turn into toxins that clog the vessels and cause cephalgia.

Metaphysical Causes of Headache According to Experts

We have already discussed the precursors of cephalgia, but let’s also consider the theories of popular psychosomatic experts.

Psychosomatics of Headache by Louise Hay

According to Louise Hay, the psychosomatic cause of cephalgia lies in insecurity, fear, anxiety, and worry about the future. Such a person is self-critical, considers themselves inferior to others, and does not accept themselves. Affirmation for healing: “I love and appreciate myself. I look at myself with eyes full of love. I am confident in my future.”

V. Zhikarentsev

Zhikarentsev sees the cause of cephalgia in an inferiority complex and excessive self-criticism. Affirmation for healing: “I love and approve of myself. My talent is boundless. My mind is constantly evolving.”

Liz Burbo and the Causes of Headache

The head represents the individuality of the personality. According to Liz Burbo, a headache indicates that a person is scolding themselves. Reproaches and low self-esteem are the main cause of cephalgia. Such a person sets high demands for themselves and sees the flaws of all humanity in themselves.

Other possible causes of cephalgia:

  • Guilt;
  • Fear of criticism from others;
  • Non-acceptance of oneself or one’s actions;
  • Fear of moving forward or leading something;
  • Information overload, desire to understand and know as much as possible, control everything.

Additionally, a person suffering from headaches is convinced that they have been unfairly offended or undervalued. Such a person constantly feels offended, envies others, and blames life and other people for their failures. They constantly compare themselves with others.

What to do: Allow yourself to be yourself. It is necessary to stop depending on the opinions of others, not try to be what others want to see. Get to know your needs and allow yourself to live life fully. Do not overstrain your intellect and do not suppress your essence.

Valery Sinelnikov and Headache

According to V. Sinelnikov’s theory, illness points out our mistakes. Cephalgia is a cry of the subconscious that we are doing something wrong. Perhaps you want to finish a work project, although you are exhausted to the limit. Or you constantly take on too many responsibilities. Or you want to escape from family conflicts but can’t decide on divorce or find another way to solve the problem. Cephalgia is a chance to rest, prevent overload, and step away from the situation.

The second reason for cephalgia is hypocrisy. Perhaps you interact with those you dislike but pretend to be happy about it. The mismatch between feelings, thoughts, and behavior causes internal conflict. It is necessary to solve the problem and restore harmony within yourself.

Other causes of headaches, according to Sinelnikov:

  • Low self-esteem and excessive self-criticism;
  • Critical attitude towards others;
  • Non-acceptance of oneself and other people;
  • Fear;
  • Distrust of the world. It is necessary to recognize your uniqueness and the uniqueness of others, allow yourself and them to be themselves. Treat cephalgia as a signal. Do not mask it with pills, but find the cause and eliminate it.

Headache by Baginski Bodo J, Sharamon Shalila

The cause is chronic tension. It can be caused by two factors:

  • Pressure and high demands from others;
  • Stubbornness, fixation on one problem, and high demands on oneself. Stop controlling your feelings and reactions for a while, let everything take its course. Allow yourself to experience any emotions, fulfill any desires. This is necessary for relaxation and recovery. After that, there will be room in the soul for love and joy.

Headache by Guru Ar Santem

Cephalgia is related to will. Possible reasons:

  • You press on people, impose your opinion on them;
  • People press on you, impose their opinion on you (you allow it to be imposed).

Psychological Types of People Prone to Headaches According to Psychosomatics

Psychologists have established that a person’s character and temperament are linked to the intensity and characteristics of their illness. For choleric and sanguine types, discomfort arises in the upper part of the head and temples; for melancholic types, it occurs at the back of the head; and for phlegmatic types, discomfort moves to the nose-forehead area. Now let’s see how a person’s character reflects the specifics of the pain.

Arrogant Personalities

Arrogant people are characterized by an inflated self-esteem, inadequate demands and expectations of others, a tendency to judge everyone from a high horse, overestimate themselves, and underestimate others. They often say with dissatisfaction, “You’re giving me a headache.”

People with Low Self-Esteem

The complete opposite – such a person is critical and strict with themselves. They are constrained and reserved, trying to please everyone.

Overly Emotional People

Even the habit of expressing all emotions does not help if a person is highly emotional. Such people take everything to heart, get easily irritated, easily charmed and disappointed. They have weak self-control. Excessive emotionality can be both a temperament trait and a sign of pathology.


An unattainable number of obligations, unrealistic plans and expectations, striving to do everything perfectly and control everything – all this exhausts the brain. A perfectionist’s brain works to its limit and never rests.

How to Get Rid of Psychosomatic Causes of Headache

First of all, it is important to understand what exactly causes cephalgia, which part of the personality is speaking, and what it wants to say. The only way to get rid of the cause is to solve the psychological problem, resolve the internal or external conflict, learn to express your emotions.

It is important to get rid of unfounded anxiety, change what is not satisfying in life, overcome fears and phobias, change your attitude to the situation. Remember, if the situation cannot be changed, it must be accepted. And if the situation can be changed, you are obliged to live as you want. Only you control your life.

You must learn mindfulness and thought management. Learn to objectively assess any situation. Ask yourself, is what worries you now so important in the long run? Will it significantly affect your future, personal life, career? Does this situation meet your needs, or is it more about others’ expectations? Will it be important in a month, a year, two?

If you cannot identify and eliminate the cause on your own, consult a psychotherapist. They will help you delve into the depths of the subconscious. Psychoanalysis, hypnosis, Gestalt therapy, art therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy – these are the main methods of condition correction. In fact, there are dozens of techniques for identifying and resolving internal conflict. The psychotherapist will study your characteristics and choose the optimal option.

Important! If cephalgia is based not only on stress but also on somatic pathology, such as a neurological disease, brain trauma, or head injury, comprehensive treatment is necessary. Be sure to undergo a medical examination!

Consequences of Neglected Headache

Ignoring cephalgia is dangerous. First, you can neglect a medical pathology (if there is such a basis), and second, you can escalate internal tension to the point that it turns into psychosis, schizophrenia, dissocial personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or another neurosis. It is important to treat the cause in time, not ignore it or mask the symptom with pills.

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