Three Things to Know About Going to Therapy with Migraine

Written by Jessica Puterbaugh | May 8, 2024

Living with migraine, we often spend a lot of time caring for our physical health. We go to doctors’ appointments, take supplements and medications, try physical therapy and exercises, and maintain certain diets. But caring for our mental health is also an important, and yet often overlooked, piece of a well-rounded treatment plan.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, the perfect time to remind us that mental health is important! A great way to invest in our mental health is by seeing a professional therapist or counselor. For many, the idea of seeking therapy can be a vulnerable and scary experience, but it doesn’t have to be!

Here are three things to know about going to therapy with migraine.

1. Going to therapy does not mean something is wrong with you!

People often think of going to therapy as something you only do when something is wrong, or that it means something is wrong with you. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Being a person and living a human existence means riding the waves of some very complicated experiences. And riding those waves with a chronic illness like migraine presents us with even more challenges. There is no shame in that! Talking to a therapist can help us talk through some of our obstacles, reframe our thinking, and build positive coping strategies.

2. Your pain is NOT all in your head!

Deciding to seek therapy does not mean that your pain is in your mind. Your pain is very real! However, it is important to understand the very complex bidirectional relationship between pain and mental health. Migraine is comorbid with a range of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD and many other mood disorders. While living with migraine has a huge impact on mental health, it is also a two-way street. Stress caused by untreated mental health issues like anxiety can have a physical impact on the body over time and can help trigger migraine attacks. You can read more about the connection between migraine and mental health in our article, Migraine Comorbidities: Mental Health Disorders.

3. Talking to a friend or family member is not the same as going to therapy.

Opening up to and connecting with others is so important. But it’s not a substitute for talking to a professional. Seeing a therapist or counselor can have many more benefits than just talking to a friend or relative. For one thing, a trained professional understands complex concepts about how the brain works and how to navigate difficult circumstances. They can also help you understand what you are experiencing on a different level. In addition, a professional therapist will not be biased as someone close to you may be. They may be able to see things from a perspective that someone in your life may not be able to. You may also be worried about how what you tell a friend or family member will impact them. You might hold back and not tell them exactly how you are feeling for fear of hurting their feelings or worrying them, or creating conflict. Speaking with a professional allows you to let your guard down and be honest. Sometimes just getting things fully off your mind can be a really powerful stress reliever in itself!

Let Us Know!

Does going to therapy help you navigate the challenges of living with a chronic illness? What is one thing you have learned from seeking professional help for your mental health?

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