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For world’s 1 billion migraine sufferers, COVID a major headache, new film shows

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The COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge pain for everyone, and migraine sufferers are no exception. In fact, many have reported more attacks than usual in 2020 of this widespread yet little understood neurological disorder.

Therefore, timing couldn’t be better for the release (by streaming on platforms including Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Google Play, and on DVD) of “Out of My Head,” a documentary film that sets out to educate viewers that migraine is not just a headache.

People with regular migraines have unusually sensitive brains and nervous systems, and generally do best when sticking to regular sleep, eating, exercise and work patterns, say doctors. With fear of the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 leading to repeated quarantines and lockdowns, life in 2020 has been anything but regular. Such change and stress are common triggers for migraines.

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Further complicating things, severe headaches are a common symptom of COVID-19, often making it difficult for migraine sufferers to know whether they have contracted the disease or are just having a migraine. The confusion adds to stress levels, as does the knowledge that infections of any kind can trigger excruciating and prolonged migraines.

“It’s a neurological disease. The perception is that is is just a bad headache syndrome, but it is more than that. It is not life threatening, but people don’t understand how devastating it can be,” Jacki Ochs, the film’s producer, recently told The Times of Israel.

Ochs, 69, teamed up with writer, director and longtime friend Susanna Styron after Styron decided to share her experiences as mother to her daughter Emma, who began suffering from migraines at age 14. Emma’s story, presented mainly through animation, serves as the narrative backbone of the documentary.

“Out of My Head” shows how in addition to severe head pain, migraine involves an array of debilitating and frightening (though mainly transient) neurological symptoms such as aphasia, paralysis and loss of sight . Furthermore, researchers are still not completely certain as to the underlying cause of the disease in the brain. Still from ‘Out of My Head’: The filmmaker attempts to comfort her daughter during a migraine. (Maya Edelman)

Beyond the science, the affecting film explores migraine from a range of........

© The Times of Israel

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