Patients, healthcare professionals share their perspectives

The study findings examine the links between migraine and mental health, stigma and treatment preferences.

Most health professionals and people with migraine believe that migraine and mental health have a significant influence on each other, according to a recent study.

The study prompted 302 health professionals who treat neurological disorders and 1,100 migraine sufferers who also self-identified as having a mental illness to share their views on migraine and its relationship to mental health. Among participants, 92% of health professionals and 84% of people with migraines reported believing that worsening migraines could lead to worsening mental health. Similarly, 94% of health professionals and 87% of people with migraine reported believing that better migraine control could lead to better mental health. Most (91%) health professionals and two-thirds (67%) of people with migraines reported believing that those who can successfully manage their stress and mental states are also better able to manage migraines.1

The study touches on conversations surrounding migraines. Although two-thirds of people with migraines say they think it’s important to discuss their mental health with the healthcare professionals who treat their migraines, 77% of them say they hesitate to discuss their migraines with healthcare professionals because of the stigma surrounding migraines and mental health. Almost 60% said they bring up the topic themselves but would prefer their healthcare professional to start the conversation – yet 70% of healthcare professionals report asking patients about their mental health always or often.1

The study also looked at current and preferred treatment approaches. The top 3 most recommended mental health treatments among health professionals were medication (83%), cognitive behavioral therapy or psychotherapy (71%), and relaxation therapy (70%). However, fewer people with migraine reported using these techniques: 58%, 28%, and 26%, respectively. Most (91%) healthcare professionals and more than half (54%) of people with migraines said they believed migraine treatment should be more flexible and tailored to individual patient needs. Finally, almost all people with migraine said they felt it was equally important to treat migraine and mental health and would like their treatment plan to include both priorities. The study was conducted by the Migraine Foundation of America and Biohaven Pharmaceuticals.1

“Bridging communication gaps between healthcare professionals and their patients can help improve migraine management and mental health,” said Larry Newman, MD, professor of neurology at NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine and chairman of the Migraine Foundation of America. in a press release. “I hope the results of this study encourage people with migraine to feel empowered to talk about their pain and have deeper, meaningful conversations about migraine and mental health without worrying about the stigma.” These are important conversations that both migraine sufferers and healthcare professionals should start at every visit.

Do you treat patients with comorbid migraine and psychiatric illness? We want to hear about your experiences and clinical pearls. Email us at [email protected]


1. A survey by the American Migraine Foundation shows that almost all people with migraines and health professionals believe that migraines and mental health significantly influence each other. Biohaven Pharmaceuticals. News release. July 28, 2022. Accessed July 28, 2022.

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