After living with, researching, and treating headaches, for the last 20 years, one of my favorite ways of associating headache diagnosis with emotional and behavioral patterns is by comparing them to their owners. Headaches affect countless millions in the world, and with many varied reasons, it seems clinically there are a few that stand out.
Headaches aren’t fun, they are downright miserable, but learning about the psyche of these symptoms can help with treatment . Of course everyone is different, but lets have a little fun making sense of what it means to be a headache personality.
As you can read in my personal story, I fit into the pressure cooker headache for most of my young life, and when I’m under stress, my body tends to go right back into that pattern. With history of birth trauma, an intensely active and highly driven Type A personality, and desiring higher education for many of my years, daily pressure headaches were my reality. I have effectively treated my pressure headaches, but when I do get one visit me here and there, I don’t just look at the symptom, I look at what is going on in my life and psyche.
So come along with me on this fun experiment and see if any of these headaches personalities fit you. (and don’t get caught up in how unscientific this is, it’s pure personal opinion and clinical observation!)
- The Pressure Cooker Headache: Yep, that’s right, it’s like a pressure cooker in here. No matter day or night, the pressure headache loves to make you feel like you have a tight sweat band around your head and when under stress, bulging of the eyes and steaming of the ears is a common occurrence. (Ok, a bit of exaggeration) High pressure Type A personalities with a history of intense sports and push yourself to the edge behaviors (which actually makes them feel better), who can dive into anxiety and then develop a depressed malaise, “thrive” in this pressure cooker. Addictions, hypertension, allergies, and reproductive problems can plaque these “Yin” deficient individuals. Chronic and down right irritating, these headaches can result in forehead rubbing, teeth grinding, distant stares, and the “don’t bother me I have a headache tonight” lover.
- Mr. Cluster F@#$ Headache: You know that one ex-girlfriend or boyfriend that stalked you for years, who you were so intensely in love with but knew it was going to be bad every time they came around? The cluster headache is that fatal attraction lust that can last for hours or weeks, but as soon as it feels like you can’t live another minute with them, they vanish. People who have a hard time committing and letting their guards down or have a deep history of neglect and worry tend to be hit over the head with this headache, thus the term cluster f@#$! They have weak digestion, especially worsened by high histamine foods like alcohol, cheese and cured meats. They don’t do well with change and are unpredictable, perhaps like the men they mostly affect.
- Mrs. Migraine Headache: Whether it’s PMS or just the smell of perfume, this person can’t avoid the eventual dark, quiet room that they are about to live in for the next few days. They prefer to withdraw from social situations and have an intense fear of speaking in public, being the center of attention, and desire to be alone. The Migraine headache will do anything to just get some peace, and they are keenly aware of their surroundings and how they feel at all times (thus the immediate Imitrex injections as a result of “feeling” the migraine coming). They tend to live in the past, and have a hard time letting go of old patterns, beliefs, and fears, along with having a strong history of head traumas. They tend to suffer from hormone problems, genetic predispositions, nutritional deficiencies, allergies, and depression.
- Sinuses are Such a Pain Headache: Oxygen deprivation can do wonders to a brain. This headache loves sensitive people with chronic allergies, leaky gut, mold exposures, and history of facial or head traumas. They will do anything including removing body parts just to be able to get rid of the aching pressure in their face. Prone to Afrin addiction and environmental toxicities, this personality will subject themselves to sleep studies, CT scans, surgeries, nasal rinses, and snoring strips just to breathe (and improve their love lives). This headache doesn’t do well with dairy, citrus, or baked goods, and they tend to be continually focused on themselves and their problems, most likely where oxygen deprivation likely comes in.
- The SAD (Standard American Diet) Headache: These suffers walk around for quite sometime with pain at the base of their head and pressure behind their eyes. Overweight, sluggish, and damp, these individuals crave nothing but salt, sweets, and fatty foods. It becomes harder to sleep at night due to night sweats, and they even wake up feeling worried for no apparent reasons. They may suffer at any given time from the pressure, migraine, and sinus headaches as well, but because they tend to be in denial and able to disregard their bodies own signals, they just pop another Vicodin. They tend to poopoo any nutritional advice and happily take statins instead of exercising. Like your stubborn family member who believes they are always right and no one else’s opinions matter, these personalities can be set in their ways, until the ambulance arrives and they end up with a triple bypass or worse. Unfortunately, physicians like myself are always looking out for the SAD headache, and hoping we can make a difference before they end up with a stint in their clogged hearts.
There are of course many headache types, but in my clinical experience, these are the ones I see walking into my office daily.
So what headache are you? (and if you aren’t a headache sufferer, then there is no doubt you know someone who is:)
I would love to hear your comments below, and remember Pressure Cooker, this is for FUN and ENTERTAINMENT (and a little bit of personality typing).