Migraine sufferers are THREE times more susceptible to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety compared to someone who doesn’t get migraines.
It’s important to have a conversation on mental health since it affects one in four of us. This year we tried to do our bit by encouraging a conversation on social media. Many asked questions they had on ‘Migraine and Mental Health’.
Dr. Katy Munro, one of our Headache Specialist joined in to help answer the questions.
We have tried to summarise them in this blog which might be helpful for all. Here are some tips from Dr Munro.
Migraine and Mental Health – Dr Katy Munro
Chronic migraine is one of the most disabling conditions according to the World Health Organisation.
A sense of loss is very common as it impacts on so many aspects of life: work, social and family life can all be affected. There are several ways to help yourself deal with this sense of your life closing down.
There are various self-help tactics that ease depression. Some studies have shown that people who keep a gratitude journal, writing down three things each night which you are grateful for, can be helpful.
The process of choosing which things to write down is the helpful bit. It is our natural tendency to focus on our negative feelings but simple changes can have positive effects.
Another technique called Expressive Writing has helped some people with chronic pain. The idea is to write down everything that comes into your head over the course of about 20 minutes.
Anything goes! Don’t reread it though. Chuck it away afterwards (shred it preferably!) The detoxing of our thoughts from the brain to paper has a mood enhancing effect.
For stress reduction try Mindfulness and Exercise.
For more information read Dr Jessica Briscoe’s blog on ‘Anxiety and Depression‘.
Remember: Depression needs to be assessed and treated by your GP if it is not responding to simple measures.
There are over 40 genes involved in creating the brain pathways that lead to migraine.
It’s also really hard to describe to non-sufferers how debilitating the other features are – the brain fog, the fatigue, the word finding difficulties, the sensory disturbances.
We suggest eating regularly especially snacks that slowly release energy, such as foods like protein or fat every 3-4 hours and a bedtime snack. This is basic but important. Many other factors contribute too.
Have a look at these websites for more self-help ideas:
All the above give useful tips on how to help get a better feeling that you are controlling your life rather than the pain controlling it.
For more information on migraine management read one of our factsheets.