Visiting your GP

How to get the most from an appointment with your doctor

Going to the doctor to talk about migraine can be difficult

You may feel:

  • that the doctor thinks your condition is not significant (compared to the life threatening diseases he or she may be treating)
  • that your GP is not interested, because he or she just gives you drug after drug
  • embarrassed because you have to keep going back time and time again (there is never a ‘cure’)
  • that your doctor cannot do anything for you.

About 60% of people with migraine do not go to their GP for help with their condition. However, developing a strong relationship with your GP may be a positive step you can take to manage the condition.

Getting the most out of your appointment

The first time you visit your doctor to talk about your headaches, he or she will probably want to know:

  • details of your headaches and any other symptoms
  • what aggravates the headache (i.e. movement)
  • how often you have attacks
  • what brings them on
  • when you first started having these symptoms (days, months, years ago)
  • if there is anyone else in your family who suffers from similar headaches
  • what treatments you have tried.

To get the most out of your appointment, try to:

  • give your doctor as much information as possible about your condition. It may help to keep a migraine diary, or at least to write some information down before the appointment.
  • keep a record of the impact your migraines are having on your life, both during and in between attacks. The doctor will only understand how disabling the condition is if you tell him or her.
  • remember that migraine is a very individual condition. There is a wide range of treatment options available, and with perseverance you will hopefully find the right one for you.
  • help your doctor to help you, by keeping him or her up to date with advances in management and treatment of migraine (from a recognised source like The Migraine Trust).

Many people with migraine suffer from the condition for years – migraine is a ‘long-term condition’. Many doctors will appreciate patients who ask questions, give feedback, provide information, and try to self-manage their condition.

Specialist clinics

Many migraine sufferers are successfully treated by their doctor. However, you may be referred to a neurology department or clinic for more specialist help if:

  • there is doubt about the diagnosis
  • your attacks are getting worse
  • you have not responded to treatments.