The Emotional Burden of Migraine + How to Cope

You’re not alone if your migraines leave you asking, “Why me?”

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If you deal with frequent or severe migraines, you know the toll they can have on your life. It’s not just the head pain and other physical symptoms. You may also struggle with the emotions that come with migraine, which may include feelings of guilt, isolation, anger, sadness, and frustration.

The Emotional Burden of Migraine

Migraines can bring about these emotions for a number of reasons. The stigma about migraines can make people feel like others don’t believe them or understand what they’re going through. There are many myths that migraines are “just headaches,” so it may be hard to get support from loved ones. (Learn more about migraine myths here.)

To make it worse, daily migraine management can bring about negative emotions. Avoiding triggers or worrying about when the next migraine will strike can lead to stress or fear. Cancelling plans with friends or telling your child you can’t play with them can make you feel guilty, angry, or lonely.

The point is, it’s valid to feel negative emotions when dealing with migraine. Luckily, there are people, resources, and strategies that may be helpful for coping with these feelings.

How to Cope with Emotions from Migraine

The first step in coping with the emotional burden of migraine is acknowledging and accepting the emotions you’re having. Denying or ignoring the negative emotions may allow them to worsen. If you’re reading this, that probably means you’ve already recognized that you’re struggling with emotions from migraine.

Once you’ve recognized the negative emotions—whether stress, guilt, anger, or frustration—you can seek out support. This might mean building in healthy, stress-reducing strategies into your life, such as:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Exercising regularly
  • Using relaxation strategies, such as breathing exercises or meditation
  • Connecting with others

It may also help to meet with a mental health professional. A therapist can help you understand your feelings and give you strategies for dealing with them. This has an added bonus: Finding healthy ways to cope with stress and other negative emotions may actually improve your migraine experience. That’s because stress itself can trigger migraines.

Reassessing Your Treatment

If you’re extremely frustrated or stressed due to chronic migraine, this might suggest that your treatment regimen isn’t working as well as it should. When you find a treatment that works for you, you should see your migraines decrease in severity and frequency. This may help reduce some of the emotional burden of migraine as well.

Talk to your doctor if you think your migraine treatment isn’t working, or if you’re struggling to cope with the emotions that come with migraines. They can help you find the tools and resources you need to feel better—physically and emotionally.