In our efforts to learn about Migraine disease, we naturally focus a great deal upon the pathophysiology of Migraine and Migraine treatments, but we sometimes lose sight of the two most important things to remember about Migraine.
We need to learn about Migraine disease and our treatment options in order to work to the best of our ability as treatment partners with our doctors and other health care providers. Research has shown that educated patients are more compliant with our treatment regimens and have better outcomes. More and more, doctors — particularly Migraine and Headache specialists — truly want us to be partners in our treatment. Dr. David Watson, my specialist and the chair of our medical advisory board, has offered his Advice for Your First Visit with a Migraine and Headache Specialist. Among the things to remember about Migraine is that neurologists aren’t necessarily Migraine specialists, and Migraine specialists aren’t necessarily neurologists. We don’t have enough Migraine and Headache specialists, but we are gaining ground in the field.
It’s a truly exciting time in the Migraine field. No, we still don’t fully understand the disease, and that’s another of the things to remember about Migraine, but we’re making progress. The most notable progress recently was the FDA approval of Aimovig, a CGRP monoclonal antibody for Migraine prevention. Unlike everything else we’ve been using for Migraine prevention, Aimovig was developed specifically for that purpose, not developed for another condition, then found to help with Migraine. There are three other medications in that family in various stages of development, two of which have been submitted to the FDA for approval. You can learn more about these medications in the American Migraine Foundation’s Facebook Live video and transcript, What to Know About the New Anti CGRP Migraine Treatment Options.
The Two Most Important Things to Remember About Migraine
None of what I’ve mentioned above is going to matter if we don’t keep in mind two other vital things to remember about Migraine:
- You are NOT alone.
- There is ALWAYS hope.
You are NOT alone. Being healthy and whole isn’t just about the physical. We need to feed, nurture, and heal the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects of ourselves. Humans are social beings. We need human contact, and we need to feel understood. Migraine disease can be extremely isolating. When we’re feeling the most isolated and least understood, we must remind ourselves that we are NOT alone. There are millions of us living with this disease, and with social media, we have more opportunities than ever to connect with others in similar situations.
There is ALWAYS hope. This is perhaps the most essential of all the things to remember about Migraine. It’s important to remember this for a number of reasons, the most simple of which is that we feel better emotionally when we have hope. Another critical reason is the impact our emotions and mental outlook can have on our health and treatment success or failure. Our minds are powerful enough to override our bodies’ responses to our treatments. If we start a new treatment feeling sure that it will fail, it most likely will. In psychology, this is called a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” In medicine, it’s called the “nocebo effect.”
Over the last 18 years, I’ve attended many continuing education conferences in “Headache medicine” and learned more than I ever thought I would about Migraine. Still, if someone were to ask me, these are the two most important things to remember about Migraine.
Here’s a little reminder from our site mascot, Migraine Advocate Annie:
Thank you for this very well organized and thoughtful organization. I am excited to know there is a patient centered approach to well documented information and an invitation to be pro active in helping each other cope with a life of migraine disease. I feel strongly that the fact that Migraine is a neurological, non- psychiatric disease (and not just a Headache) should be strongly emphasized. Headache specialists should be called neurologists or providers with a specialty in Migraine Disease or even better…a specialty in Non psychiatric Neurological Disease. Thank you for your efforts to improve our lives.