To live as well as possible with Migraine disease, we need as complete an arsenal as possible. Just as a soldier needs different types of weapons to be prepared for different types of battle, we need weapons in our arsenal to care for the whole person–body, mind, and spirit.
Hope is an essential part of our arsenals for two main reasons.
The impact of hope on Migraine treatment
It’s vitally important to have a positive attitude when trying new Migraine treatments, and hope facilitates that attitude. Our minds exert more control over our bodies than most people realize. If we start a new treatment with a negative attitude, believing that it won’t work for us, it most likely won’t work. Yet, if we were to try that same treatment with a positive attitude, believing it could work for us, there’s a much better chance that it will.
In psychology, this is the principle of self-fulfilling prophecy. A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prophecy that causes itself to become true, either directly or indirectly, due to our beliefs and behaviors.
In medicine, it’s called the nocebo effect. The nocebo effect occurs when a patient takes a harmless substance (placebo) and experiences negative side effects because of their negative expectations. This term is most often seen in relation to placebo-controlled clinical trials.
The impact of hope on living with Migraine
Finding an effective Migraine management regimen that reduces the frequency and severity of our Migraine attacks and aborts the Migraine attacks that we do get can take time and patience. It can be particularly difficult to find effective preventives.
All of this can be very discouraging. When we take into consideration the fact that people with Migraine are more likely to experience comorbid depression, panic, and anxiety disorders, we can understand how difficult it can be to maintain hope.
Not only can a lack of hope influence the success or failure of Migraine treatments, losing hope has led to people taking their own lives when they felt there was no longer hope for relief from their Migraine attacks and improved quality of life. It’s beyond important that we not underestimate the role of hope in living with Migraine disease. Whether we maintain hope through support from other people, belief in a higher power, or other means, hope is indeed an essential part of our Migraine arsenals.
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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+.