The economic cost of migraines to New Zealand's economy is an estimated $80 million a year, says the national director of the Migraine Sufferers Support Group Annette Hallam. She says that figure comes from a report by research company Colmar Brunton and is based on an estimated 700,000 lost working days per year.

"This figure doesn't allow for the additional costs to our health system when migraine sufferers seek medical help."

Migraines place much less demands upon health care resources than other chronic disorders, however.

Instead, Annette Hallam says, the burden of migraines is borne principally by the sufferers.

The intangible costs of migraines are hard to quantify, but it is "widely accepted that sufferers suffer from a greatly reduced quality of life." Severe migraines cause emotional and mental suffering, psychological distress, and interference with work, family life and social activities.

The Auckland-based support group offers assistance to sufferers and their families and Annette Hallam says the group has 1300 members and 22 branches nationally.

"Often the most helpful thing we can do is listen," she says.

"Talking on the phone, or even in person to someone who is a sufferer themselves can help relieve some of the pain and guilt people feel."

The group regularly organises meetings with guest speakers. This gives sufferers the opportunity to both learn more about migraines and talk to fellow sufferers.
Support material is also available.

Annette Hallam can be contacted on Auckland 482-1331.