‘I experience daily migraines. This is the scary symptom no one talks about.’

“We know that women are twice as likely to be affected by migraine than men — and like other conditions that are more prevalent in women — remains poorly understood and highly stigmatised.

“We’re encouraged by the progress in broader access to treatments in Australia, but what is clear from recent findings is that more work needs to be done to increase awareness and understanding of healthcare issues specific to women including migraine.”

Many women who experience migraines say they’ve faced medical gaslighting, when a health professional dismisses or trivialises their symptoms. It occurs across the board for a range of medical conditions, many often chronic pain related. 

Now it feels as though migraines are yet another way women are being gaslighted. 

Elizabeth Seng is a clinical psychologist whose research is focused on improving management of chronic migraine.

Speaking to Well and Good, she noted that migraines are often not taken seriously as there isn’t a foolproof test a medical professional can do to simply diagnose chronic migraines. It’s more complex than that. 

“You might say, ‘Gosh, I have this terrible headache,’ and a friend might say, ‘Oh, me too,’ to which you say, ‘Mine is a migraine,’ and they reply, ‘Oh, I know, me too,'” said Dr Seng. “The problem is that the word ‘migraine’ has been co-opted by the broader culture to just mean a really bad headache. And if everyone gets bad headaches on occasion, suddenly migraine isn’t a valid condition so much as merely a common inconvenience.”