Migraine is the most common neurological condition in the developed world.
It’s more prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined. Approximately 8 million people in the UK suffer from migraine.
What is a migraine?
A migraine is a throbbing, intense headache usually affecting one half of the head. It can affect people of all ages. The cause of migraine is not known.
During an attack, the blood vessels in the brain dilate and then draw together with stimulation of nerve endings near the affected blood vessels. These changes to the blood vessels are probably what cause the pain, but migraine is still a condition that is poorly understood.
There is often a pre-disposition for migraine within families, but it’s not certain if this is hereditary.
Key facts and figures about migraine:
- Among adults of all ages, migraine is one of the top 20 causes of disability, expressed as years of healthy life lost to disability
- Severe migraine attacks are classified by the World Health Organisation as among the most disabling illnesses, comparable to dementia, quadriplegia and active psychosis
- Migraine is the least publicly funded of all neurological illnesses relative to its economic impact
- In the UK, there are an estimated 190,000 migraine attacks every day
- An estimated 25 million days are lost from work or school because of migraine
- Just over a third (34.3%) of migraine sufferers face difficulties or discrimination at work because of their condition
- Over half (54%) of migraine sufferers experience one or more attacks per month, and 13% claim one or more attacks per week
- Women are more likely to have migraine attacks than men – 18% of women and 8% of men
- Children can get migraine attacks too. Attacks can start at any age, but they usually start in children who are in their early to mid-teens
- A survey of neurologists found that up to one-third of all patients consulted because of headache – more than for any other complaint
- Depression is three times more common in people with migraine or severe headaches than in healthy individuals
- Migraine remains undiagnosed and undertreated in at least 50% of patients, and less than 50% of migraine patients consult a physician
There is no definitive reason on what causes migraine. Some people experience migraines due to the following:
- Eating certain foods, in particular cheese, chocolate, citrus fruits
- Alcohol, particularly wine
- Anxiety and stress
- Bright Lights
- Loud noise
- Contraceptive pill or due to their menstrual cycle
- Lack of sleep
Some sufferers of migraine (about 15%) experience an aura that most often are visual, such as lines or flashing lights across or at the sides of their vision. Migraines often affect one side of the head at a time, although both sides may be affected in separate attacks.
Other symptoms include sensitivity to light and sounds or tingling in the body. Migraines are often accompanied with nausea or vomiting. Rarely there may also be some difficulty with speech or controlling limbs.
Unfortunately allergy or blood tests are of little help, as blood tests appear normal in migraine.
If experiencing pain or discomfort with your migraines, your goal is to reduce or eliminate it. Hypnosis can give us the ability to gain control over our pain sensations by learning specific skills, enabling us to choose which pain messages we allow through to the brain.
Pain is a necessary and important condition within the body’s system. You should therefore ensure that you seek medical attention in order to have the condition diagnosed and treatment options outlined by your doctor, prior to hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy can be used as a relaxation tool to reduce the stress associated with migraines, for instance being unable to go to work or to social outings. In addition, visualisation and NLP (neuro linguistic programming) techniques will be utilised to remove any fears associated with the situation.
Aspects of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and solutions focused brief therapy will then allow you to take control, reduce or eliminate the migraines, and to concentrate on more positive aspects of your lives.
The number of session required will be determined by the severity of the condition, however this is usually between 8-12 sessions. This will be discussed during the initial consultation.