A headache with pain on top of the head is generally a tension headache, reports Health.com. Tension headaches are the most common of the major types of headaches among adults and feel like steady pressure on top or on both sides of the head; they last from a half hour up to several days, explains WebMD. This type of headache does not worsen with physical activity and often responds well to normal doses of acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Causes of tension headaches include stress and worry, skipping meals, poor sleep or lack of sleep, poor posture and eyestrain, notes Health.com. In addition to band-like or squeezing pressure around the head or the sensation of a weight on top of the head, some people experience pain in the back, neck and shoulders, as well as mild sensitivity to light and sound and difficulty sleeping. WebMD adds anxiety, fatigue and overexertion to the list of potential causes. The rate of women experiencing this type of headache doubles that of men.
Thirty to 80 percent of the U.S. population experiences tension headaches occasionally, according to WebMD. Only about 3 percent of the population experiences them chronically. In addition to treatment with over-the-counter pain medications, muscle relaxants and antidepressants are beneficial in some cases. Stress management and biofeedback training potentially reduce the incidence and severity of this type of headache.