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5 Tips for Navigating Doctors’ Appointments with Migraine

Content created for the Bezzy community and sponsored by our partners. Learn More

by Elinor Hills

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Jennifer Chesak

Fact Checked

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•••••

by Elinor Hills

•••••

Jennifer Chesak

Fact Checked

•••••

•••••

Living with an invisible illness can make doctors’ appointments frustrating. Finding a doctor who gets it can make a big difference.

When you live with a chronic condition like migraine, doctors’ appointments can feel stressful.

You may anticipate an appointment for months but find yourself overwhelmed when it finally arrives.

It can be challenging to describe your migraine symptoms to a doctor, especially during short appointments.

You may feel frustrated after the appointment if you realize you forgot to mention an important detail or ask a burning question. Sometimes, it can even feel like your doctor didn’t fully understand what you were trying to explain.

Members of the Bezzy Migraine community know what you’re going through because they’ve been there too.

Here are five tips from community members about how to feel more confident about going to the doctor.

Know that your experience is valid

“I saw a psychiatrist who was in tune with ‘invisible illness’ and looking at the body as a whole. It was really good to talk to someone and walk out of the office feeling like I’d been listened to. I wasn’t treated like I was making something out of nothing.” — LeahBee

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Practice describing your symptoms

“Before an appointment, you can prepare a description of your migraine attacks. Some questions to consider are:

  • What does it feel like?
  • Where is it located?
  • How long does it last?
  • Have your attacks changed over time?
  • What relief medications do you take? How often?
  • How effective are the relief medications?

“You can describe days without pain too because you might be experiencing symptoms you didn’t know are residual effects of migraine.” — Courtney Lynn

Remember that providing more details can only help

“Be prepared to provide information about your diet, job, stress levels, sleep schedule, and other relevant factors. The doctor may ask about these things and more to help get a more complete picture of what is going on.” — Janette Tatem

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Don’t feel guilty seeking a second opinion

“I stopped going to the doctor because I was dismissed as anxious. I withdrew and learned to navigate life. I felt angry with my neurologist for not listening, but I also felt guilty leaving to find better care or a second opinion.

“I have attempted to navigate things on my own, but it feels like I’m suffering in silence. It can be so hard to navigate this with chronic migraine symptoms.

“A year and a half ago I finally met a physical therapist who listened which gave me a glimmer of hope.” — Elice Johnson

Consider seeing a specialist

“Lots of patients have trouble feeling like they might hurt their primary care doctor’s feelings. But doctors won’t feel that way. They just want you to have the best care, and sometimes that won’t come from them.

“Seeing a specialist can be helpful. They can give you some good ideas. You deserve to be heard.” — Eileen

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The bottom line

When you live with chronic migraine, doctors’ appointments can be frustrating. It’s important to remember that your experience is real and your emotions are valid.

You deserve to receive care that makes you feel safe and respected. You can help your doctor help you by preparing notes before the appointment.

Sometimes, no matter how prepared you are, your doctor may just not be the right fit for your needs. It may feel scary to switch doctors but finding a doctor who makes you feel confident in your health journey is essential.

It can be frustrating, but you’re not alone.

The Bezzy Migraine community understands and is here for you.

Article originally appeared on July 29, 2021 on Bezzy’s sister site, Healthline. Last fact checked on July 27, 2021.

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