How to Help Your Loved Ones Who Suffer with Migraine

An estimated 38 million people in the United States suffer from migraines, and 2-3 million of these sufferers experience chronic symptoms. If someone in your close circle experiences migraines, you likely know just how debilitating they can be. Migraines often come out of nowhere, leaving their victim in extreme pain and discomfort. For the loved ones of migraine sufferers, it can often be difficult to know what to do and how to help. Even if you have taken the time to do your research about migraines and think you have a grasp on what it is like, you cannot completely put yourself in a sufferer’s shoes.

What is a Migraine, Anyway?

Sure, we’ve all had a headache before, nothing a little Advil can’t take care of, right? This is one of the biggest misconceptions about migraines. Those who have never been brought to their knees from a migraine simply do not understand just how different they are. For a majority (8 out of 10) of migraine sufferers, nausea is a common symptom. Why is this? Simply put – pain is nauseating. This is just one of the main differences between headaches and migraines and the first step to helping understand what a migraineur is going through.

So, how can you help?

For one, it helps to understand what some of the main causes of migraines could be. While different people have different triggers, there are three big things that factor into every person’s migraines: food, stress, and sleep. By understanding this, you will be on your way to helping your loved one.

Understanding Your Role

It can be difficult to be in a relationship – romantic or otherwise – with someone who suffers from migraines, as the pain often controls that person’s social life, professional life, and love life. Before anything else, maintaining a healthy relationship with an individual who suffers from migraines starts with communication and a dedication to understanding what a migraine is, what causes it, what some of the behaviors associated with migraines are, and how you can help.

With this, it is also important for you to understand the signs and symptoms of a migraine and what some of the most effective remedies are. The last thing you want is for your loved one to suffer in silence, so open the door for them to discuss what they are going through with you.

Co-Existing with a Migraine

Understanding is the first step to helping, but there are a handful of other ways you can ease your loved one’s pain and discomfort when a migraine strikes:


  • Communication is key – Openly discussing migraines – what they feel like and the effect they have on your life – is one of the best ways for your family member or partner to help you understand what it’s like. If you aren’t sure where to start, try writing down a list of questions to get the conversation going in the right direction. By talking about migraines in an open way that allows both sides to speak their truth, you will both be supported.


  • Be supportive – When someone has a migraine, they often want to retreat and isolate themselves. Do your best to respect your loved one’s wishes, while still offering your support.


  • Be flexible – The last thing a migraine sufferer wants is to have their plans derailed because of a nasty migraine. Understand that, yes, migraines often hit at the most inopportune moments, butthere is nothing they can do about it. Be flexible and lead with compassion.


If you aren’t sure how you can help someone in your life who suffers from migraines, try reaching out and talking to a doctor. There are many different resources out there today designed to make living with a migraine easier – for both the sufferer and their family and friends. Taking the time to understand what it is like to experience a migraine will in turn make you a better supporter for your loved one — something everyone will benefit from.



Migraine Again – How to Make Room for Migraine in Your Relationships – Caring for a Migraine Sufferer

Everyday Health – Caregiving Role in Migraine Relief