Migraine Community: Teen Talks

with Kelli Sloan

  • Time

    Tuesdays via Zoom
    7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST
    4:00 pm - 5:00 pm PT

Teen Talks is a weekly virtual meetup group for young people who live with migraine and other headache disorders. This group is designed to create a supportive and judgment-free environment where teens with migraine can share their migraine stories, experiences, struggles, and successes with peers who also live with migraine and headache disorders. This group is for teens aged 13-17 and will be held every Tuesday evening from 7:00-8:00 pm EST - via Zoom.

This group is for teens aged 11-17. When applicable the chat will be divided into two groups, for ages 11-13, and 14-17.

A parent or guardian must complete registration for anyone under 18.


Kelli Sloan

Kelli Sloan, MSW

Kelli Sloan, MSW, LSW, is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and is currently a clinical social worker at DLA Psychology Center in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in treating anxiety, depression, chronic pain, medical conditions, and assisting caregivers.

Kelli is passionate about helping people through life challenges. She enjoys assisting individuals in understanding their chronic pain and exploring coping strategies while using a creative approach to treatment. Kelli strives to help individuals reach their goals and improve life satisfaction. Kelli enjoys watching sports, hiking, and reading in her free time.

Migraine in Teens: Understanding the Challenges

Migraine in teens is under-diagnosed. According to Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 75% of children are affected by primary headache by the age of 15 with 28% fitting the ICHD2 criteria of migraine. The study on the management of migraine in adolescents found that 28% of teenagers with migraine had a female predominance, with 19% experiencing migraine without aura and 9% having migraine with aura.

By delving into these challenges, it becomes evident that addressing migraine in teens requires a comprehensive approach involving education, support, and collaboration between healthcare professionals, teens, and their families.

Teen talks aim to create awareness, foster understanding, and provide practical strategies for managing migraine in the adolescent population. Join us in unraveling the complexities of migraine in teens, as we work towards empowering both teens and their families to navigate this intricate maze together.

Challenges for Teens with Migraine

Academic Impacts on Teens with Migraine. Migraine can disrupt a teen's ability to concentrate and participate in school activities, leading to missed classes and falling grades. The struggle to keep up with assignments and exams exacerbates the stress and anxiety associated with migraine and headache disorders.

Social Isolation. Teens often face the challenge of explaining their condition to friends who may not fully understand the debilitating nature of migraine. This lack of awareness can result in social isolation as teens may be hesitant to participate in social events for fear of triggering an episode.

Emotional Well-being. The recurrent and unpredictable nature of migraine can take a toll on a teen's mental health. Dealing with chronic pain, coupled with the frustration of not being able to control the attacks, may lead to feelings of sadness, anxiety, or even depression.

Challenges for Families

Misunderstanding and Migraine stigma. Migraine in teens can be misunderstood by parents and other family members, leading to frustration and strain on relationships. The invisible nature of migraine may contribute to a lack of empathy, as others may struggle to comprehend the severity of the condition.

Healthcare Navigation. Parents often find themselves navigating the complex healthcare system to find appropriate treatments for their teen's migraine. Understanding the various medical interventions, lifestyle adjustments, and psychological support options can be overwhelming for families seeking effective solutions.

Impact on Daily Life. Migraine disrupts not only the teen's routine but also the family's daily life. Balancing work, school, and caregiving responsibilities becomes a delicate juggling act for parents, leading to increased stress and fatigue.

Symptoms of Migraine in Teenagers 

Migraine in teenagers can manifest in various ways, and the symptoms may vary from person to person. It's important to note that migraine is more than just headaches; they are neurological disorders with a range of symptoms that can significantly impact a teenager's daily life. Here are some common symptoms of migraines in teenagers:

Headache. Intense, throbbing pain, often on one side of the head.

Sensitivity to light, sound, and smell.

Aura. Some teens may experience visual disturbances, known as auras, before the headache phase. Auras can include seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines, or blind spots. Sensory auras can involve tingling or numbness in the face or hands.

Learn about all phases of migraine

Nausea and Vomiting. Many teenagers with migraine may experience nausea and vomiting during an attack. This can make it challenging for them to carry out daily activities and attend school.

Fatigue and Weakness. Migraine can lead to a feeling of exhaustion and weakness, lasting for hours or even days after the attack subsides.

Difficulty Concentrating. Migraine can impair cognitive function, making it difficult for teenagers to concentrate on tasks or schoolwork. Memory and problem-solving abilities may be temporarily affected.

Dizziness and Vertigo. Some teens may experience dizziness or a spinning sensation, known as vertigo, during a migraine attack.

Irritability. Migraine can contribute to mood changes, including irritability and frustration. Teenagers may become more sensitive to stimuli and may prefer quiet and dimly lit environments.

Abdominal Pain. Abdominal migraine is a subtype that predominantly affects the stomach, leading to abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. This type is more common in younger children but can persist into the teenage years.

Photophobia and Phonophobia. Increased sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia) is common during a migraine attack. Teens may prefer to be in a dark and quiet room to alleviate these symptoms. Parents and caregivers need to be aware of these symptoms and seek medical attention if a teenager consistently experiences migraine attacks.

A healthcare professional can help determine an appropriate treatment plan, which may include lifestyle changes, medication, and strategies for managing stress or triggers.

Triggers of Migraine in Teens

Migraine in teenagers can be triggered by various factors. Understanding these triggers is crucial for managing and preventing migraine attacks. It's important to note that migraine triggers can vary among individuals, and what affects one teenager may not affect another. Here are some common triggers, with a specific focus on teens.

Hormonal Changes. Hormonal fluctuations, particularly in teenage girls during menstruation, can trigger migraine in teens. The onset of menstruation and the menstrual cycle itself may influence migraine frequency.

Sleep Patterns. Research, such as studies conducted by the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, suggests that irregular sleep patterns, insufficient sleep, or changes in sleep routines can impact migraine frequency in teenagers. Inconsistent sleep schedules, insufficient sleep duration, and poor sleep quality may contribute to increased susceptibility to migraine attacks.

Stress and Anxiety. Teenagers often face academic pressures, social challenges, and other stressors, which can trigger migraine. Stress management techniques, such as relaxation exercises or mindfulness, may be beneficial in preventing migraine attacks.

Dietary Factors. Certain foods and drinks can act as triggers. A healthy and regular eating pattern can contribute to migraine prevention.

Dehydration. Inadequate fluid intake and dehydration can trigger migraine in some teenagers. Encouraging proper hydration by drinking enough water throughout the day is important.

Sensory Stimuli. Exposure to bright lights, loud noises, strong smells, or flickering screens can trigger migraine in teens who may be more sensitive to sensory stimuli.

Weather Changes. Changes in weather patterns, such as pressure changes, extreme temperatures, or high humidity, may trigger migraines in susceptible individuals.

Physical Activity. Strenuous physical activities or sudden changes in exercise routines can act as triggers for some teenagers. It's important for teens to maintain a balanced approach to physical activity.

Caffeine Withdrawal. Teenagers who consume caffeine regularly may experience migraine attacks when they skip their usual intake, leading to caffeine withdrawal headaches.

Understanding and identifying these triggers can empower teenagers and their caregivers to make lifestyle adjustments that may help prevent or reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. It's advisable for teenagers experiencing migraine to consult with a healthcare professional to develop an individualized management plan tailored to their specific needs and triggers.

Treatment Options for Chronic Migraine in Teens

Treating chronic migraine in teens often involves a multifaceted approach that addresses both the acute symptoms and the prevention of future attacks. Teenagers with chronic migraine and their caregivers must work closely with healthcare professionals to develop an individualized treatment plan. Here are some common treatment options for chronic migraine in teens:

Acute Medications. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can be effective in managing mild to moderate headache pain. Prescription medications may be recommended for more severe migraine attacks.

Preventive Medications. For teenagers experiencing frequent and severe migraine attacks, preventive medications may be prescribed. It's essential to carefully monitor the use of medications, and their potential side effects, especially in the growing and developing bodies of teenagers.

Lifestyle Modifications. Identifying and addressing triggers is a crucial aspect of managing chronic migraine in teens. This may involve making changes to sleep patterns, managing stress through relaxation techniques, maintaining a regular eating schedule, and staying hydrated.

Establishing a consistent routine for meals, sleep, and physical activity can contribute to overall well-being.

Behavioral Therapies. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and biofeedback are therapeutic approaches that can be beneficial for teens with chronic migraine. These therapies focus on identifying and modifying thought patterns, behaviors, and physiological responses associated with migraine.

Education and Support. Teenagers and their caregivers can benefit from educational programs and support groups that provide information on migraine management and coping strategies. Encouraging open communication with healthcare providers, teachers, and peers is essential for building a supportive network.

Teen Talks and Support Groups. Participating in teen-specific support groups or educational programs, such as "Teen Talks," can provide valuable insights and coping mechanisms. These forums offer a platform for teens to share their experiences, learn from others, and gain practical tips for managing migraine in their daily lives.

Encouraging teenagers with chronic migraine to sign up for programs like "Teen Talks" can foster a sense of community and empowerment. Such initiatives may offer a safe space for teens to discuss their challenges, share strategies, and learn about new developments in migraine management.

It's crucial for parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals to collaborate in developing a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to the individual needs of each teenager. This may involve a combination of medications, lifestyle modifications, and psychological support to enhance the overall well-being of teens living with chronic migraine.