Adolescents and Headaches: Maintaining Control
Ashley W. Helvig, Ptlene Minick
Migraine headaches, much like a chronic illness, are reported to negatively affect adolescents physically, mentally, and socially, further disturbing this already turbulent time of development. Prior migraine research is limited in adolescents, and no qualitative studies have examined the lived experience of adolescents with migraines. This interpretive phenomenological study explored the experience of living with migraines in six adolescents ranging in age from 12 to 17 years. After coding data and grouping into clusters, three themes emerged: 1) maintaining control by either pressing on and enduring the burden, or by disengaging and isolating self; 2) mind overload; and 3) unsettling manifestations. Adolescents approach migraine episodes by either continuing with their life as "normal," or by removing themselves physically and/or emotionally. By understanding the potentially unique physical and psychological disruptions that adolescents with migraines experience, nurses can offer education, provide nonpharmacologic interventions, and conduct further research that will improve health outcomes.