One of the most insidious things migraine disease does to many of us is instill a disheartening fear of our next migraine.
There’s fear even for those of us whose migraines are currently well managed. The biggest migraine fear I have at this point is that the preventives that are keeping me at an average of only two migraines a month will lose their effectiveness, and I’ll be back to chronic migraine - again.
If we don’t take action to control it, the fear of our next migraine can be as debilitating as migraine disease itself. Here are some things we can do to help control the fear:
- Always have our Migraine Attack Pack ready. Being prepared truly can help reduce the fear.
- Focus on an activity you’re able to do. No matter how simple, the act of doing something is a great weapon against fear.
- When the fear strikes, breathe. Sit down and ask yourself how rational the fear is at that moment. Take a few deep, calming breaths. How are you feeling? Remember - a migraine can take us down, but it can’t take us out. Tomorrow will still come, and we will still be here. Try to replace the fear with logic.
- If you have religious or spiritual beliefs, fall back on them. For some people, these beliefs, along with prayer or meditation, are their biggest weapon against fear.
If we can’t handle our fears on our own, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help. Consider these options:
- Share your concerns with a friend. Sometimes, just voicing our fears reduces their hold over us.
- Share your fears with a group of migraineurs. There are few face-to-face support groups for migraine, but there are lots of online groups. You’re always welcome to join our Migraine Management Facebook Group.
- Ask the doctor you see for your migraine treatment for a referral to a psychologist who understands migraine. Psychologists can be enormously helpful in dealing with our fears and developing better strategies for coping with migraine.
- Ask your doctor about depression screening. Major depressive disorder is often comorbid with migraine, and it can amplify our fears and anxieties. It’s a disease, just as migraine is. If you’re experiencing depression, you deserve the treatment that will help improve your health and quality of life.
Last, but certainly not least, we need to maintain hope and use it against the fear. Some people see hope as something ephemeral and intangible, but there are more enduring and tangible reasons for hope than ever before. There have been some novel treatments approved recently, and the CGRP treatments that are in the pipeline approach migraine from a totally new and promising direction.
Much as we’re faced with often difficult life choices about our careers, marriage, etc., we’re also faced with choices about our health, health care, and quality of life.
To a great extent, living with fear of our next migraine falls into the category of live choices. We have to address the issue ourselves. Nobody else can do it for us. Some of us will be able to find ways to tame this fear ourselves. Others will need some help and support. Whatever we must do to face and defeat this fear, let’s do it. Let’s find our logic and hope and use them to wipe it out We deserve to live without it making us miserable.
Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation’s Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society. Teri can be found on her website, and blog, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.