How to feel supported while living with migraine

Migraine is a common neurological illness affecting more than 37 million Americans. While migraine symptoms and frequency are unique to each patient, it is a disabling, sometimes chronic, neurological disease. Receiving a migraine diagnosis is the first step to managing your migraine. From there, it’s time to take action. Here is how to get started.

  1. Treat your symptoms: Find a doctor who understands the disease and is prepared to explore custom treatment options.
  2. Build a support network: Help educate your family, friends and coworkers on the impact of migraine.
  3. Embrace self-care: Lifestyle and behavioral changes like getting more sleep and reducing stress may help you control your migraine symptoms.

Setting a migraine treatment plan

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“After getting your diagnosis, work with a healthcare professional to create a tailored treatment plan for you,” says Dawn Buse, a licensed psychologist and Clinical Professor of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Every patient responds differently to various forms of treatment, so migraine treatment plans should be as unique as the migraine patient. A treatment plan could include both pharmacologic or medication treatments, as well as interventional treatments and behavioral and lifestyle modifications.

Finding the support you need

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Migraine and other chronic conditions can be isolating and lonely, so it’s not uncommon for migraine to be accompanied by depression. “To combat those feelings of isolation, depression, frustration and loneliness, it’s important for both parties to reach out,” says Dr. Buse.

Friends and family members want to help, but often don’t know how. To help your family members and friends understand your illness, start by talking to them to explain what you’re going through, and provide them with direction for what you need when you have a migraine so they can help. This way you don’t feel as isolated, and they can feel like they’re giving you support.

Lastly, you can always turn to the large community of advocates and people on social media who also live with migraine, and who really speak your language. The Move Against Migraine Facebook Group, for example, provides community and access to doctors.

Living with migraine requires placing a greater emphasis on self-care. There are many lifestyle adaptations that you can make to reduce your risk of a migraine attack, including taking the time to eat balanced, nutritious meals and dedicating yourself to regular exercise and mindfulness.

Become the best advocate for the care that you deserve by learning about your disease and how you can put yourself first. Pay attention to your migraine triggers and make an effort to remove them from your daily life. Narrow down the medications or treatments that help reduce symptoms so you feel prepared when a migraine attack strikes. Feeling confident about your ability to talk about and manage your migraine will help you advocate for both yourself and the wider migraine community.

The mission of the American Migraine Foundation is to mobilize a community for patient support and advocacy, as well as drive and support impactful research that translates into advances for patients with migraine and other disabling diseases that cause severe head pain. For more information, please visit americanmigrainefoundation.org.

Lastly, you can always turn to the large community of advocates and people on social media who also live with migraine, and who really speak your language. The Move Against Migraine Facebook Group, for example, provides community and access to doctors.

Visit the American Migraine Foundation

The American Migraine Foundation’s Find a Doctor tool allows you to search for health care providers specializing in headache near you.