Science Tuesday: Stress Really Does Cause Headaches

By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
@sanahfaroke

Coffee. Can't live without it. PHOTO VIA/ Heather Goldin

Coffee. Can’t live without it. PHOTO VIA/ Heather Goldin

I’m addicted to coffee. The first time I had a drop of coffee, I think the world literally stopped for a split second. It was earth shattering. Now, when I wake up, I can’t live without coffee. And I’m not alone, it is a $30 billion industry after all.

No, but really: If I don’t have a cup of coffee, I’ll have an extreme migraine. I can’t function, I can’t think, I can’t formulate sentences,  I can’t even eat (just kidding, I can always eat). The point is, I’m actually addicted.

The problem is, as if an addiction isn’t a problem in itself, is that even when I have my fourth venti from Starbucks, I still manage to get headaches.

Is it because I spend the wee hours of the night cramming for bio exams, running around interviewing people while under deadlines and constantly reading literature texts with little to no decipherment? Well, BU wouldn’t be BU if it didn’t make its students go crazy. In between all of my work, I have nervous breakdowns. My eye twitches, knots form on my back and the headache creeps back in. No amount of coffee will help, and coffee is from the heavens. It’s the stress I tell you! But actually, Dr. Sara Schramm proves it really is the source of headaches.

According to a study released last week, researchers found that people who have more stress in their lives have more headaches than someone who spends their day on the sofa with their cat. Schramm, the lead researcher from the University of Duisburg-Essen, based her findings off of 5,000 participants in Germany for two years.

Schramm characterizes the level of headaches into four categories: tension headaches, migraines, a combination of both and unclassifiable headaches (I’d add caffeine headaches, but that’s just me). Participants deciphered how many headaches they had during check-ins and rated their stress level from zero to 100 based on a stress measurement scale.

Those with tension headaches, which are the most common, rated their stress at 52 out of 100, while volunteers with migraines said their stress level was 62 out of 100.

There’s always Advil, but why bother with it when there are ways to lower our stress level? Some people run, some do yoga and others sleep. I’m a little less conventional. I’ll drive to the mall, pick up a cup of coffee and head to Brookstone. I eye the room for the closest massage chair and literally sit in one for 30 minutes. Then I scour the store to buy something small so I don’t feel guilty, but guess what, it works (the employees sometimes give me dirty looks, but who cares? I got the best (free) massage #iaintgotnoworries).

So take some time out of studying and relax. I’ll work on my caffeine addiction headaches next, but I can’t fully quit. Fine, we can talk about it sometime over coffee.

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