Howard Jacobs, MD, Pediatrician, University of Maryland, Baltimore, shares his views on helping improve the life of the migraineur, as well as the family….
Most migraine sufferers will tell you that their migraines are worsened by stress. Stress can come from a number of sources, but the ones that seem to be on the top of the list are school, or work, and family. Though all three are tremendously significant, it is infinitely easier to change a classroom, school or even job than it is to change one’s family.
Whether it be marital discord, money concerns, or parent-teen conflict, family issues have a tremendous impact on the migraineur and ignoring this is likely to result in less than successful migraine therapy.
On the flip side, having a supportive, understanding family can be an enormous help to the migraine sufferer… to an extent. Unfortunately, we find that very often with our adolescent patients, the parents are too focused on the migraine; so called “helicopter parents” who are hovering over their teen with repeated inquiries about their pain. In my clinic I had one parent ask her 16 year old son how he was feeling 4 times in a 15 minute visit. This kind of attention only serves to increase the focus on a problem that we are trying to minimize.
Often, having the whole family involved in the therapeutic process is the answer. It may mean scheduling visits at a time that spouses or parents are available, and it may involve family counseling. People often find the prospect of family counseling threatening. It really should not be viewed as such. Seldom do people take classes on being a spouse or parent before having to be one. Processes that seem right and become family habit sometimes are detrimental in ways not obvious to those involved.
Making the effort to work on sources of family stress and how the family responds to them; learning to be supportive without being overbearing can be the key to improving the life not only of the migraineur, but the whole family.
American Migraine Foundation