Tension-type headache, previously called muscle contraction headache, is the most common type of headache. Its name indicates the role of stress and mental or emotional conflict in triggering the pain and contracting muscles in the neck, face, scalp, and the jaw. Tension-type headaches may also be caused by jaw clenching, intense work, missed meals, depression, anxiety, or too little sleep. Sleep apnea may also cause tension-type headaches, especially in the morning. People who suffer tension-type headaches may also feel overly sensitive to light and sound but there is no preheadache aura as with migraine. Tension-type headaches usually disappear once the period of stress or related cause has ended.
Tension-type headaches affect women slightly more often than men. The headaches usually begin in adolescence and reach peak activity in the 30s. They have not been linked to hormones and do not have a strong hereditary connection.
There are two forms of tension-type headache, episodic tension-type headaches and chronic tension-type headaches. Episodic tension-type headache occur between 10 and 15 days per month, with each attack lasting from 30 minutes to several days. Chronic tension-type attacks usually occur more than 15 days per month over a 3-month period. The pain, which can be constant over a period of days or months, strikes both sides of the head and is more severe and disabling than episodic headache pain.
Depression and anxiety can cause tension-type headaches. Headaches may occur in the early morning or evening, when conflicts in the office or at home are anticipated. Other causes include physical postures that strain head and neck muscles (such as holding your chin down while reading or holding a phone between your shoulder and ear), degenerative arthritis of the neck, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction (a disorder of the joints between the temporal bone located above the ear and the mandible or lower jaw bone).
A physician may suggest using analgesics, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs or antidepressants to treat a tension-type headache that is not associated with a disease. Triptan drugs, barbiturates (drugs that have a relaxing or sedative effect), and ergot derivatives may provide relief to people who suffer from both migraine and tension-type headache.
This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.