Experts Offer Advice on How to Handle Back-to-School Stress, Headaches, Migraines and More

With the new school year comes plenty of stress and anxietyfor both students and parents. But this year, due to the coronavirus pandemicand the uncertainty of what to expect for the upcoming school year, students,parents and even teachers are experiencing higher than normal amounts of stressand anxiety.

Jeannette Kaplun, television host, journalist and CEO of Hispana Global

In a recent Baptist Health Resource Live panel discussion, “Easing Back-to-School Stress, Migraines & More,” television host and journalist Jeannette Kaplun, who is also CEO of Hispana Global, was joined by Graciela Jimenez, a family psychologist with Baptist Health Care & Counseling, and Dalia Lorenzo, M.D., a neurologist with Miami Neuroscience Institute.

The two experts offered their thoughts on back-to-schoolstress and steps you can take to get your stress to a more manageable level forthe upcoming year. They also detailed what happens in your brain when youexperience stress and why it can sometimes lead to headaches or migraines.

Graciela Jimenez, family psychologist with Baptist Health Care & Counseling

“If we didn’t have a little stress, we wouldn’t be able to function – a little bit of stress is good for us,” said Ms. Jimenez. “Where it gets out of control is when you start getting headaches and other physiological responses to the stress.”

With COVID-19, kids are feeling stress just like theirparents, they just don’t have the emotional vocabulary or coping skills tomanage their stress. Dr. Jimenez advised looking for changes in your child’sbehavior.

“If they usually sleep through the night and have difficulty sleeping – too much or too little – or if their diet has changed, they’re eating more, or they’re more irritable, then, yes, you should seek out some assistance,” said Ms. Jimenez.

Dalia Lorenzo, M.D., neurologist with Miami Neuroscience Institute

Dr. Lorenzo attributed an increase in the number ofpatients presenting with headaches, migraines and insomnia to the coronaviruspandemic. “Certainly, I’m seeing a lot of patients coming in with worseningmigraines and new-onset headaches,” said Dr. Lorenzo. “There’s also a lot of depressionand isolation out there right now.”

Asked by Ms. Kaplun what the difference is between aheadache and a migraine, Dr. Lorenzo responded, “A headache can be caused bymany things – eye strain from too much screen time or an old visionprescription; temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ); a sinus problem; neckdisk disease, or just a standard tension headache. A migraine headache, on theother hand, is a primary neurologic disorder that affects the meninges, thefibrous membranes that cover the brain and spinal column.”

Migraines can be triggered by any number of things,according to Dr. Lorenzo, from diet and sleep deprivation to uncertainty anddisruption of routines. But stress, she says, is one of the biggest triggers ofmigraines.

Other types of headaches, such as “thunderclap headaches”or those accompanied by fever, can indicate a serious medical condition andshould be immediately evaluated by a doctor.

Ms. Jimenez said that area residents who feel they or a loved one might benefit from mental health counseling but don’t know where to turn can start by calling 211, a regional resource for references, referrals for counseling, group discussions and more. “Or, ask your child’s physician or teacher – they have access to all sorts of resources.”

For those who prefer a consultation from the comfort and safety of their own home, Ms. Jimenez recommended using a telehealth service such as Baptist Health Care On Demand, which offers online video consultations with licensed therapists.

“Telehealth is great option for people of all ages – from college students and parents of young kids, to working professionals, seniors, and anyone with chronic health issues that limits their ability to leave their home,” Ms. Jimenez noted. The Care On Demand app is free, and you can receive $10 off your first consultation through Dec. 31, 2020 with code WELLBEING.

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