Is there a social burden associated with migraine?
Migraine does not cause paralysis or similar types of disability, but it can still cause a lot of problems for people. Although some people with migraine have only an occasional attack, many others have frequent attacks which can stop them from doing things that they want to do or need to do.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has ranked migraine at the 7th leading cause in the world of years of life lived with disability. They estimated the disability caused by migraine by using quite a simple calculation. First of all, they estimated that during a migraine attack, on average, people were disabled by about 43%. That is, they could still do some things, but many people could not work of do things nearly as effectively as they could when they did not have an attack. They also estimated that on average, people with migraine spend about 5% of their time having a migraine attack. Finally, since about 14% of the world’s population has migraine, This all added up to a great deal of disability worldwide, and led to migraine being a major cause of people being unable to work of live to their full potential.
Migraine and headache in general is therefore very expensive for society as a whole and for individual countries. Because migraine is common, and because people often suffer from migraine attacks for many years, even decades, the cost of migraine in terms of missed work and other costs is enormous.
A large European analysis concluded that, counting indirect costs such as missed work in addition to other direct costs like medical costs, migraine and related headache disorders cost the European countries more than stroke, and several times as much as conditions like Parkinson Disease and multiple sclerosis.
So, if you have migraine and feel that it is having a significantly negative effect on your life, you are not alone. It is important that you develop a good management plan with your health professionals to reduce the impact of migraine on your life as much as possible.
Remember: Migraine is frequent. It is not an imaginary disease. Attacks can be invalidating. It is costly to our society when left untreated. It causes a lot of suffering.
The Canadian Headache Society and migrainecanada.org are working to disseminate information about migraine and support Canadian migraineurs.