Stress management for headaches in children and adolescents: A review and practical recommendations for health promotion programs and well-being

J Child Health Care. 2018 Mar;22(1):19-33. doi: 10.1177/1367493517738123. Epub 2017 Nov 1.


Stress is considered to be the most common factor reported to trigger headaches in children and adolescents. Although tension-type headache and migraine are the two most common types of headache in children and adolescents, they are often untreated, ignoring their stressful background. We provide a narrative review of the available evidence for health-care professionals involved in stress-related headache management and health promotion programs. An integrative plan is delivered through lifestyle improvement and biopsychosocial modifying stress response techniques. Healthy dietary choices, sleep hygiene, and regular exercise, although limited, are effective for young sufferers. Biopsychosocial therapies such as relaxation, biofeedback, hypnosis, yoga, cognitive behavioral therapy, and acupuncture focus at stress physiological and behavioral relief. Our purpose is to suggest a stress-related headache management to empower children to make healthy choices in order to improve their lifelong well-being and quality of life. We aim to authorize relationship between nurses and other health-care providers with background knowledge around stress management for pediatric headache populations.

Keywords: Health promotion; migraine; stress management; tension-type headache; well-being.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services / standards*
  • Behavior Therapy / standards*
  • Child
  • Child Health Services / standards*
  • Counseling / methods
  • Female
  • Headache / therapy*
  • Health Promotion / standards*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*