The Journal of Headache and Pain

"European Headache Federation" and of "Lifting The Burden - The Global Campaign against Headache"

The Journal of Headache and Pain Cover Image
Open Access

Stress and chronic headache

  • Domenico D'Amico,
  • Giuseppe Libro,
  • Maria Pia Prudenzano,
  • Cesare Peccarisi,
  • Mario Guazzelli,
  • Giuliano Relja,
  • Francomichele Puca,
  • Sergio Genco,
  • Ferdinando Maggioni,
  • Giuseppe Nappi,
  • Anna Pia Verri,
  • Rosanno Cerbo and
  • Gennaro Bussone
The Journal of Headache and PainOfficial Journal of the Italian Society for the Study of Headaches1:0001S049.10194


The aims of this study were to assess how stress affects chronic headaches, and in particular to determine whether events play a role in the transformation of an episodic headache into a chronic form. A population of 267 Italian patients with chronic headache (headache present on average more than 15 days per month) was studied. Our results confirm a triggering role of stress on headache. We also found that episodic headache (migraine in most patients, 74.1%) preceded the development of a chronic form in about 90% cases. Among these patients, in 44.8% a stressful event correlated with the transformation. Analysis of these events revealed that minor events played a greater role than major life events, suggesting that patients with transformed headache are characterised by a different way of reacting to stress.

Key words Chronic headacheStressLife eventsTrigger factorMigraineTransformation of headache