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21 years old, having anxiety with headache. Is there any treatment?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2009
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I am a 21 year old male college student, in the past I have had problems with a slight anxiety problem, but really only right before a big test or essay etc. I am a psych major and cognitive science minor so I sometimes over thing the pain that i experience.

Basically for the past month or so I have been experiencing extremely sharp and painful stabbing-like headaches that last for about 2-6 seconds several times a day, every day. While I have not observed this pain to occur at any particular time of day, they do in fact happen nearly everyday, at least 5 days a week. My girlfriend who shares the same major/minor as me has suggested that it is perhaps an ice pick headache and after reading in depth about it, I can say I some what agree. Although sometimes, not always, with these headaches a sound of what I'll describe as rushing water in the area where the pain occurs does accompany the headache; which I have not seen to be a symptom shared by others who experience ice pick headaches. Please let me know ASAP. thanks.
Posted Mon, 1 Apr 2013 in Anxiety and Stress
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 16 minutes later
Hello and welcome to Heatlhcaremagic.

Thank you for writing to us.

Your presentation does indeed sound like primary stabbing headache (ice-prick headache). Let me list the criteria for diagnosing ice-prick headaches:
1. Pain occurring as a single stab or series of stabs
2. Episodes last for a few seconds and might recur in the same day (usually from one to several episodes a day)
3. Pain mostly or specifically occurring in the orbit, parietal or temporal regions (I assume you know these regions due to your qualification)
4. No other associated symptoms

Ice-prick headaches are usually seen in individuals who suffer with migraine episodes or other headache conditions. But, are usually seen to occur independently (i.e. do not occur with other migraine symptoms, or during a migraine episode). As these headaches are also found to be quite similar to migraine headaches due to their mechanism; they fall under the same category as that of migraines. This is because they also occur due to vasodilation of cerebral vessels. This dilation of the vessels causes an increased blood flow (influx) to the brain, resulting in the 'rushing water in the area where the pain' is description that you have put forward.

The pain is also caused due to this sudden rush of blood to the brain, resulting from the vasodilation. I hope I have succeeded in explaining this to you well enough. If there is anything unclear or you require any further clarification, do write back to me. I would be happy to help you.

Best wishes.
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