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Stress vs Stroke: What are the Differences?

Individuals experience stress in different levels and intensities throughout the course of their life. There are many symptoms that may be mistaken for having a stroke but are attributed to stress. Often, these are migraines or headaches that are caused by the dilation of blood vessels. More often it is a certain nerve in the brain that causes extreme stress when stimulated during a migraine [1].

Intense migraines have a tendency of causing weakness and a nauseating feeling. This is often confused or misinterpreted as a stroke in severe cases. It is vital that one seeks emergency medical help if they are experiencing vision loss, experiencing weakness on one side of your body, or experiencing trouble walking, talking or completing small tasks.

Usually a person knows their own body better than anyone else and they are able to distinguish an extreme symptom from a less severe one [2]. For example, a person who regularly experiences throbbing stress headaches will react differently than someone who is experiencing a throbbing headache for the first time. In cases where symptoms seem extreme, there may be a risk that the person is experiencing a stroke. Using the

You can use the mnemonic device, Face, Arms, Speech, Time (F.A.S.T.) to check for a stroke. Two ways are to ask the person to smile (to check if one side of their face droops) or asking them to say a simple sentence (to see if they slur their words).  These indicators are good indicators that a person is having a stroke and emergency medical attention should be sought right away.

[1] What’s happening during a Migraine? Levy, Suzanne. Health. Retrieved from:,,20327068,00.html

[2] Is this stress or a stroke? Hill, Lisa O’Neill. WebMd. Retrieved from:

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