Migraines & Mental Health: Disability

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | January 2012

Migraines & Mental Health: Disability - Introduction

While migraine disease itself can be incredibly disabling (the National Headache Foundation estimates that one in five chronic migraine patients cannot work due to their migraine disease), adding comorbid mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder make functioning significantly more difficult. In fact, many people who find themselves so debilitated by migraine disease they need to seek out disability benefits, such as long term disability or Social Security Disability, also live with a mental health condition.

Many people who find themselves in a position to apply for disability benefits downplay the seriousness of their mental health disorders. It is easy to see why. There is still far more stigma associated with mental health issues than with other types of disorders. Many people also worry about the future ramifications of disclosing a mental health disorder in applying for jobs, insurance, etc.

Although I cannot necessarily convince you that stigma can be overcome, I can tell you that the situation with discrimination as a result of disclosure of a mental health issue is getting better in at least one way. As a result of the federal Affordable Care Act, as of 2014 it will be illegal for insurers to reject applications for coverage or revoke coverage because of pre-existing conditions, including mental health conditions.

Acknowledging your mental health issues on your disability application is extremely important in painting an accurate picture of how disabled you are, what your limitations are and why you have struggles that make it impossible for you to work at any type of job. Illustrating to the disability examiners that you not only live with migraine disease, but also a mental health disorder tells them valuable information about your situation and circumstances that they would not get if you leave out the details about your mental health status. More and more they are starting to understand how difficult mental health conditions can be to overcome and the extremely disabling nature of a physically disabling condition combined with a mental health disorder.

For more information about applying for Social Security Disability, please visit:

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