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6 Ways Living With Migraine Can Affect Your Mental Health

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When most people hear the word “chronic illness,” they think about all the ways a condition may impact someone’s physical health. For example, when we talk about migraine, people typically think about excruciating head pain, fatigue, nausea, and other physical byproducts of this neurological condition.

However, I know that my life with migraine involves so much more than just the physical symptoms I experience and their impact on my day-to-day life. In fact, there are many ways in which living with migraine impacts my mental health. Here are just six ways living with migraine can impact your mental health:

1. Elevated Stress Levels

Stress is a common migraine trigger, and living with migraine often causes people stress. So needless to say, stress and migraine have a complicated relationship. Unfortunately, stress can also impact your mental health, which makes the relationship between migraine and stress even more problematic.

If you notice that your stress levels are elevated, looking for ways to manage stress may help your physical and mental health. Mindfulness exercises, journaling, and readjusting your goals and expectations for yourself can all help reduce stress levels.

2. Lower Self-Worth

We live in a world where so much emphasis is placed on productivity and success. However, when you live with a chronic health condition like migraine, you can’t always push yourself and hustle like your friends and family members — at least not without consequences later on. When we feel like we aren’t equally successful to others, we often feel inadequate or unworthy in some way, and this low self-worth can really take a toll on our mental health.

Here’s the thing most of us forget, though: Our worth isn’t tied to the amount of work we do in a given day. We are worthy because we exist. Period. The fact that you live with migraine doesn’t make you any less capable, and it definitely doesn’t make you any less worthy.

3. Increased Depression and Anxiety

While the specifics are still unknown, several studies have discovered an undeniable link between migraine and depression. In fact, people with migraine, as compared to people with other types of chronic pain, are more likely to also live with depression. This also holds true with anxiety disorders, although again doctors don’t necessarily understand why.

While depression and anxiety are difficult beasts to deal with, they don’t have to ruin your life. Be on the lookout for common depression and anxiety symptoms, and don’t forget to share these symptoms with your doctor so they can help you explore treatment options.

4. Feelings of Hopelessness

Unfortunately, migraine is a difficult condition to live with. Doctors still don’t fully understand what causes migraine and there’s often no “cure” for the condition. Because of this, many people with migraine feel powerless and hopeless, and these feelings can severely impact a person’s overall well-being.

Although you may feel like the situation is hopeless at times, you can continue advocating for yourself to get the treatment options you need. You can also take advantage of resources like the American Migraine Foundation to help discover resources and treatment options your doctor may not know about.

5. Sleep Disturbances

Regardless of what nighttime routines you have in place or what sleep hygiene protocols you follow, there are times when your migraine symptoms can (and do) interrupt your sleep. Like stress, sleep disruptions can also increase your risk for migraine attacks, not to mention the impact that lack of sleep can have on your mental health.

It’s tough, but trying to follow a consistent sleep schedule can help somewhat, as can certain medications and non-medical recommendations. You still may experience sleep disruptions due to migraine pain, but if you can take the right steps to treat the symptoms immediately, you may be able to return to sleep and (mostly) net a full eight (or more) hours each night.

6. Increased Isolation

When you’re dealing with migraine symptoms, you don’t usually feel up to calling your family members or going out to dinner with friends. Furthermore, many friends and family members don’t seem to always understand how living with migraine differs from everyday headaches most people experience periodically. Combined, these issues can really increase feelings of isolation for people who deal with migraine.

Even when you feel most alone and isolated, places like The Mighty exist to help you out. I, like thousands of other people, have found entire communities of people who understand what it’s like to live with chronic health conditions like migraine. It’s a great place to come when you feel lonely or misunderstood because chances are, there’s at least one person out there who has been through a similar situation and can offer empathy and support.

If life with migraine just involved the physical symptoms, I honestly think many of us could deal with that. However, these mental health effects make life with migraine much more complicated, especially when our physical and mental health often play off each other. While there’s no magical cure for migraine or any of the fun extras that come along with it, I think understanding just how much your physical and mental health are intertwined can make a world of difference. After all, we can only treat the symptoms of any health condition once we know what we’re dealing with, amiright?

Getty image by Creacart.

Originally published: April 15, 2022
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