Migraine Awareness Month highlights the unique migraine journey
The theme of this year’s Migraine Awareness Month is ‘Your Migraine, Your Way’, focusing on the uniqueness of the migraine journey for each patient.
Migraine is a complex genetic neurological disorder that has a wide spectrum of presentations. The migraine journey, from first symptoms, to diagnosis, to finding a management program that works, is unique to each patient. Each person living with migraine has a slightly different combination of symptoms, triggers and treatments.
Migraine Awareness Month is held in June each year. It is the major annual awareness activity of the global migraine community with over 35 countries conducting activities throughout the month. Migraine Australia, the only patient body supporting Australians living with migraine, is participating for the second time this year, with a full month of activities, informational videos and online activity planned. Highlights include live ‘ask anything’ Q&A sessions on Facebook, interviews with inspiring people and leading doctors, and Shades for Migraine on June 21 – a global awareness day where everyone is encouraged to take a selfie with their sunglasses on to raise awareness of migraine.
Founder of Migraine Australia, Dr Raphaella Kathryn Crosby, says the month is a great time for people to talk about their migraine with friends, family and loved ones.
“Migraine can be quite isolating because only other people with migraine really understand what it’s like, and the stigma that it is ‘just a headache’ is so entrenched.
“Many people who live with migraine don’t discuss it publicly, or don’t tell even their close friends or colleagues, because of that stigma.
“The social media posts and videos, and other events throughout the month, are a great way to start a conversation,” Dr Crosby said.
Migraine Australia is very keen for people with migraine to appreciate that migraine is a spectrum, and just because someone doesn’t have the same symptoms as you, doesn’t mean they don’t have migraine too.
“Many people with migraine feel embattled, like they constantly have to defend themselves or apologise for their disability.
“So when they first connect with our wonderful community they sometimes feel like they aren’t welcome because we’re talking about such a wide range of symptoms and things that they don’t live with!
“Everyone with migraine, no matter what your symptoms or how severe or frequent your migraine attacks are, is welcome in the Migraine Australia support groups,” Dr Crosby said.
Migraine Australia conducted research in April about the public’s perception of migraine to understand the extent of the stigma problem. The study showed a huge disparity in the understanding of migraine between those who live with it and those who don’t, and confusion about whether it is a disability, illness or just a symptom.
“Our understanding of what migraine is has changed very dramatically in recent years, and some who live with migraine as well as our doctors still think it’s a vascular headache, rather than a complex genetic neurological disorder that affects sensory processing.
“Additionally, when someone with migraine dies because of a stroke or other complication of migraine, it is almost never recorded as a migraine fatality, which fuels the false perception that you can’t die from it and the stigma that it’s not serious.
"That lack of understanding of what migraine is substantially contributes to the way we measure and track migraine’s impact on our lives and society – we need to stop underestimating, underdiagnosing, and underfunding migraine,” Dr Crosby said.
People living with migraine are urged to join their local group on Facebook, as well as the main national Migraine Australia Chat Group, and take part in Migraine Awareness Month by talking openly about their migraine with their family, friends, and coworkers.
More details are available from the Migraine Australia website www.migraine.org.au
Full results of the Perceptions of Migraine survey are available at www.migraine.org/perceptions
Raphaella Kathryn Crosby
Please report on migraine using the right terminology!
Consult our language guide at www.migraine.org.au/language
More information about CGRP medications: www.migraine.org.au/cgrp
Deloitte Access Economics White Paper on Migraine in Australia: https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/economics/articles/migraine-australia-whitepaper.html