CAPE CORAL, Fla — According to Miles for Migraine, about 36 million people in the U.S. suffer from migraine.
The nonprofit organization supports patients and caregivers. It also works to raise funding for fellowship research to help alleviate the headache medicine doctor shortage in the country.
Executive Director Shirley Kessel said in order to address how underfunded migraine is, we need to first address the stigmas surrounding it.
"Because of the fact that some people can be episodic and not as severely affected by migraine on a regular basis, they are not as understanding as people who have chronic migraine that are out of work, out of school, and really not living a functional life, and this is what contributes to the stigma of migraine," said Kessel.
Here's why understanding migraine and its impact is so important.
There are at least 50 symptoms, aside from just headache, that people with migraine experience. That includes anxiety and depression, which has led to a troubling statistic in the migraine community.
"We know that there is a much greater risk of suicide because migraine is so disabling. It is a pain disorder but it also has other symptoms that can actually lead to suicide. And during this month, we have a recognition day for members of our community who have taken their own lives," said Kessel.
Migraine is often underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed. Not getting help can cause episodic migraine to turn chronic.
Kessel said it's important to know where to turn for help.
"In order to get diagnosed it's important that you consider going to a neurologist. If you think you have migraine, ask your primary doctor to make a referral for a neurologist or a headache specialist, and you can find a list of headache specialists in our country on the American Migraine Foundation website," she said.