A groundbreaking study by William B. Young, MD, a neurologist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital’s Headache Center, found that patients with migraine experience social stigma much like people who have epilepsy. The study, published in January in the online journal PLOS ONE is one of the first to look at at the social cost of migraine. It was co-authored by Joanna Kempner, PhD, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University.
“When people treat my patients as if they as if they are to blame because they have a severe, debilitating disease, they are contributing to the problem and making life harder for them,” said Dr. Young. Young and Kempner found that chronic migraine has a larger impact on migraine patients and their work than epilepsy has on the work of their patients. Stigma is worse with chronic migraineurs because they can be more disabled. If the disability is taken out, the stigma of chronic migraine and epilepsy are about the same – and the stigma of episodic migraine is less. Dr. Young said, “I don’t think people realize that it is not unusual for people with migraine to have severe headaches every day – to be so disabled that they are unable to work.” “This is what causes the stigma – the fact that people with severe migraine may not be able to work.”
Social stigma can be defined when society takes a dim view of a person because they are somehow different – either externally, or in an invisible way – such as with migraine. This in turn can hurt personal relationships, work, and state of mind…… Science Daily 1/17/13