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Migraine Myths Debunked

We say it all the time, migraine is more than “just a headache.” In fact, there are nearly 39 million of us in the United States only saying this. Yet despite how common migraine is, it often feels like our message never hits the mark.

Even the best of friends can think, “they’ve had a headache too, but they just popped some over-the-counter pain relievers and kept their day going.” So, if you can’t function through your “headache,” you must not be able to handle pain very well. Or they might start to think that you’re using migraine as an excuse when you don’t feel like doing something. They may think you’re a flake because you’re constantly canceling your plans… as if you’re not disappointed to have to miss out on yet another activity or commitment.

The misunderstandings are endless, so in an effort to help clear the air and set the record straight – and help us to feel more seen and understood in the process – these are my top 5 migraine myths debunked.

Myth #1

People with migraine are overly sensitive or dramatic. Okay, I already alluded to this one, but this deserves a little more attention and discussion because we are anything but overly sensitive, dramatic, attention-seekers, weak… or any other similar words. Living with migraine takes strength you didn’t even know you had. It takes stamina and resilience. Nobody can truly understand the intense and often incapacitating pain, or the myriad of symptoms that can go along with it, unless they experience it firsthand. Yet, it doesn’t stop the non-migraine people of the world casting judgement on our experience. That is why plugging into a community like this helps to remind you that you are stronger than others will ever truly know of understand. You may not feel it all the time, but the truth is you are strong and resilient.

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Myth #2

If you can function, it's not a real migraine attack. This myth dismisses the experiences of those who've learned to endure and work through their pain due to necessity or resilience. I read so many comments from our community members here that share how many times they don’t have an option to rest – they have kids that need to be looked after, or an aging parent that they’re caring for, there are some extenuating circumstances that no matter how much pain you’re in, you’re not able to get the rest your body so desperately needs. That doesn’t discredit your pain or your experience. Just because someone is functioning doesn't mean migraine is any less real or painful.

Myth #3

Migraine attacks are always triggered by something you did. While triggers can play a significant role in migraine, sometimes attacks occur without any identifiable trigger. This myth perpetuates a blame game that can lead to unnecessary guilt or stress. I can relate to this so much. It’s so hard not to think back on, “what I could have done differently” to avoid this one. I forever need to remind myself, you did not bring this on. Can you relate?

Myth #4

Migraine medications are a cure-all solution. If only this were true. If it were, we certainly would all be living in a lot less pain and not having to stress over the insurance coverage – or lack there of – if expensive medications that may or may not work on this attack. Treating migraine is complex. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution or medication – but we certainly are remaining hopeful that researchers will find that someday soon.

Myth #5

Migraine can be prevented if you just relax more. Talk about an oversimplification of migraine. This suggests that you’re choosing to be in debilitating pain, instead of just adding a little more yoga or meditation into your life. It suggests that we’re somehow responsible for our pain because of our “inability to relax.” Stress management is definitely important in managing both the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks, but not all stress can be eliminated, and that’s not your fault.

Which myth do you encounter the most often? Is there one that I left out? Please share in the comments below so that we can keep this conversation going and work to debunk these myths once and for all!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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