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Neurological Disorders

Breaking Down Stigma and Raising Awareness for Migraine Disease

Photo: Cathy DiBernardo

Alicia Torborg

Executive Director, Association of Migraine Disorders

“You look fine.” “I get headaches too, what’s the big deal?” “Drink more water.” These are comments people with migraine hear daily, leaving them frustrated and invalidated. There are only so many times a person can explain that water will not cure their 46-day migraine before deciding it’s better to suffer in silence.

While these comments rarely come from a malicious place, they stem from misconceptions and prove just how little the general public knows about migraine. Migraine is an invisible disease linked to language that makes it sound less severe than it really is. All of this makes migraine the perfect target for stigma.

The facts

One of the biggest misconceptions about migraine is that it is “just a headache.” With attacks often accompanied by visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and sensitivity to sound, light, and smell, it’s not surprising migraine is the sixth-most disabling disease in the world. In addition, many people with migraine also live with other conditions, such as depression, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, and insomnia. Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. households includes a person with migraine, making the odds of you knowing someone impacted by this disease very high.

Shades for Migraine brings global attention

Migraine is often dark and isolating, but for at least one day out of the year, Shades for Migraine changes that with a fun social media challenge. On June 21, people around the world show they care and wear a pair of sunglasses to stand in solidarity for those with migraine. Participants prove their support by posting a photo to social media with the hashtag #ShadesForMigraine.

This is a simple way people can raise awareness, no matter their connection to the disease. The campaign makes migraine visible and opens the door to new conversations about this disease, ensuring the message is heard beyond the migraine community.

We’re counting on you

The past few years have been monumental for the migraine community. Groundbreaking treatments emerged, celebrities spoke out about their experiences, and dozens of initiatives were formed. Despite that, the burden of migraine impacts us all. If we all do our part, even something as small as wearing a pair of sunglasses, migraine will start to get the attention it deserves.

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