Why Does My Head Feel Heavy?

A heavy head is an awful feeling, and it can really overwhelm you and frustrate you when it is happening. When you are wondering “why does my head feel heavy” you will have physical sensations and a lot of emotions coming at you as well. When your head feels heavy, this feeling is going to be accompanied by many other physical sensations. 

You may feel dizzy, faint, or a little woozy as well. It may feel like the room is spinning or like you have some vertigo. There are many known causes of the feeling of heaviness in the head. Some of them are psychological, and some are physical. Most cases of heavy head feeling can be treated.

The phrase “heavy head feeling” can be hard to understand. It comes with a lot of symptoms that can be difficult for the patient to put into words. It may feel difficult to hold up your head, or you may have headaches, neck pains, and something that may feel like brain fog. You can’t think clearly, and you may have pressure in your head. When this is happening to you, understanding the causes will help you to understand and treat the symptoms. Learn more about those times when you feel like “my head feels heavy” here.

Causes of a Heavy Head

There are many known causes of a heavy head. Many of them are physiological or medical and caused by something happening in the body. Other causes are psychological and may be caused by excess worry, trauma, or stress. Panic attacks are a known cause of a heavy head feeling, but so are migraines, sinusitis, and high blood pressure or hypertension.

Medical Conditions

If you are wondering “why does my head feel heavy,” check for medical conditions that may be causing this. You may be dealing with a sinus headache, tension headache, or migraine. In a sinus headache, you may have some buildup of mucus or fluid in your sinus cavities, and this could result in a heavy head feeling. 

A tension headache is going to feel like you have an ache or squeeze in your head like a band is tightening around your skull or brain. Migraines are a more debilitating kind of headache, with a one-sided pain that can come with fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. 

Interestingly, the symptoms of fatigue, nausea, and vomiting together or alone can also bring on a heavy head feeling.

Other medical conditions that may cause a heavy head feeling include myasthenia gravis or head injury or concussion. In myasthenia gravis you have weaker muscles in the neck and fatigue or pain that grows by the day. With this condition, you may feel like it is more difficult to keep your head up. 

Whiplash or concussion can also result in a heavy head feeling. When the muscles in your neck have been whipped around in an accident or injury, you could experience a heavy head feeling. When the brain is moved against the skull during a concussion, you may also experience heavy head symptoms.

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, or depression are also known triggers of the heavy head feeling. In this feeling, you may have a floaty or heavy head feeling that is accompanied by dizziness or a faint feeling. When you are undergoing extreme stress, or experiencing flashbacks of trauma, the heavy head feeling may begin. 

You may also experience some cardiovascular symptoms like a racing pulse or a sweat. Psychological factors can play a role in the heavy head feeling. These feelings can be caused by an event happening to you, or even just recalling the event.

Lifestyle Factors

There are certain lifestyle factors that can contribute negatively to your health that will make you feel like “my head feels heavy.” Some of the most common factors include poor posture, a lack of sleep, or extreme dehydration. If you have ever pulled an all-nighter, then you may have an idea what a heavy head feels like. Or, if you have a full work week and get very little sleep, that heavy head feeling may come up. 

Extreme fatigue is also associated with some sleep disorders like sleep apnea, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other conditions such as lupus or anemia. Having poor posture can also result in that feeling of heaviness in the head. One study by Surgical Technology International discovered that the head feels heavier when it is tilted at larger angles. 

If you have poor posture and a chronic feeling of a heavy head, exercise more and work more on your posture and that feeling may stop for you.

A woman wonders why her head feels heavy

Symptoms of Heavy Head

Anytime there is an issue with the mind, brain, skull, or head, pinpointing the symptoms can be difficult unless there is obvious pain. The symptoms of a heavy head feeling are no different. There are physical symptoms and psychological symptoms that go with a heavy head feeling.

Physical Symptoms

The physical symptoms that accompany a heavy head feeling are pressure, pain, and dizziness. You may also describe your day or your moment as feeling “foggy”. There may be more physical symptoms, but these are the most common. The pressure in these physical symptoms is where the phrase “heavy head feeling” comes from. It feels like something is bearing down on your head or your head suddenly weighs about 50 pounds and you can no longer hold it up. 

You may also have pain such as a headache included in those heavy head feelings. Dizziness or lightheadedness is another feeling that comes with heavy head symptoms. It may feel like your surroundings are spinning or like you can’t stand up straight. Balance may be difficult to find, and you may have a floating feeling.

Psychological Symptoms

When you are wondering “why does my head feel heavy”, identifying the source as a psychological source is not the worst thing that can happen. In fact, noting that the cause is psychological will go a long way towards treating the heavy head feeling and ensuring that it goes away. 

Even though the trigger to your heavy head feeling may be psychological, the symptoms will still be physical. You may have a stiff neck, headaches, and dizziness. If you are experiencing extreme duress, anxiety, depression, or stress with these symptoms, then the heavy head feeling may well be psychological. This feeling is very common with trauma patients, people with anxiety or depression, and is felt by millions if not billions of people in the world.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you are thinking “my head feels heavy” frequently, you may want to have that checked out by your doctor. This is a very uncomfortable way to live and having a foggy or heavy head is going to interfere with your daily success and your quality of life. Some symptoms, such as loss of consciousness, will make it very easy to determine if you need a doctor. Others such as a fever or short-term memory loss may lead you to brush off a doctor’s visit because you feel like it may go away.

Because there are so many different things that can cause the head to feel heavy, your doctor will run a large series of tests. Your doctor is also going to want to talk about your medical and psychological history before coming up with a complete diagnosis. You may be prescribed medication or physical therapy to help you with your heavy head feeling. At the same time, you might have some lifestyle recommendations that can help you with that feeling.

For balance disorders, treatment options such as antihistamines, benzodiazepines, or sea sickness medication can help you to overcome this heavy head feeling. Some medications may not target the heavy head feeling specifically but will target symptoms like dizziness or faint feelings. An antihistamine such as Benadryl for example can help to align your histamine levels and clear out your sinuses such that some of the physiological changes that are causing this feeling go away.

Pain medication for headaches that can bring relief to heavy head feelings includes ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen. Finding relief from pain of any kind could relieve the heavy head feeling.

Posture and lifestyle changes can also help you to find relief from a heavy head feeling. If you look down a lot at work or during your day, this may cause muscle stiffness or weakness that results in a heavy head feeling. Work on your posture or find ways to support your neck and head more during the day, so that you do not create muscle weakness that causes heavy head feelings.

If you are able to pinpoint psychological triggers or physiological triggers such as fatigue or anxiety, then you may be able to change what is happening in your day to treat the heavy head. Add heating pads to your neck and shoulders and try to relax when you are experiencing these symptoms. You can even do this at work if you sit at a desk and let your mind get some peace for a few minutes every day. Bring more calming strategies into your every day to help you to alleviate this heavy head feeling.


If you are asking “why does my head feel heavy” or complaining that “my head feels heavy” frequently, there are things that you can do to prevent this feeling. Taking care of yourself goes a long way in preventing many of the physical symptoms and psychological symptoms that accompany the heavy head feeling. That is not to suggest that failing to do that is a flaw or means you caused the heavy head feelings, but that you find relief by doing things in your everyday life.

Nutritious eating and healthy sleep habits may go a long way towards preventing the heavy head feeling. Try not to skip any meals or snacks, and drink as much water as you can every day. Sleep as much as is normally recommended, and avoid all-nighters, late nights. There is something to the fact that we sleep one-third of the day every day. Our body needs it, this is not a recommended solution. Everything in your body begins to shut down when it has been kept running too long. Sleep as much as is normal and make a point of changing your schedule and life if you do not have this in your life already.

Hydrating the physical machine has the same effect. Every cell in your body needs water to survive and thrive. The systems and cells begin to shut down or get sleepy when they are not appropriately hydrated. Hydrate yourself with water or fluids that can help you to feel better when you are dealing with a heavy head feeling.

Be mindful of triggers like stimulants or depressants that can result in a heavy head feeling. That can include everything from a cigarette to a shot of vodka. Anything that crosses the blood-brain barrier is going to interfere with your mind just a little bit. In many cases, it feels good and it’s okay. 

Too much when you are dealing with a heavy head can make you feel sick, and may even be dangerous. Having too many espresso shots after an all-nighter may help you stay awake, but could contribute to a heavy head feeling as well. Stay away from caffeine if you have problems with a heavy head.

Lastly, bring things into your life that will result in less stress. Start meditating, join a class or a club, spend more time with friends and family, get social, and do things of this nature. Find ways to manage your stress levels and have more structure in your daily life and you may experience the heavy head feeling less.

Find Relief From Heavy Head Feeling

When you are complaining “my head feels heavy” or are wondering “why does my head feel heavy” know that your body is telling you something. It doesn’t matter if the issue is physiological or psychological. Stop and take a breath in your day so that you can address these feelings. You don’t have to feel dizzy and awful, and it isn’t your fault that you do. Make some lifestyle tweaks if you need to, or, talk to your doctor if these problems won’t go away. Find relief today from that heavy head feeling.

Sean Byers, MD

Sean Byers, MD

Sean Byers is currently a Resident in the Internal Medicine program at UTMB. He studied at the University of Queensland School of Medicine as well as received his Master’s in Public Health with a focus in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Southern California. His background is in biology, computer science, public health, and internal medicine.

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  1. https://www.claritychi.com/is-anxiety-causing-pressure-in-my-head/
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/head-feels-heavy
  3. https://www.tuasaude.com/en/head-feels-heavy/
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/head-feels-heavy#causes
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/head-feels-heavy#causes
  6. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dizziness/symptoms-causes/syc-20371787