Migraines On Twitter

By Neuroskeptic | November 10, 2012 8:44 am

People talk about migraines on Twitter more on weekdays than weekends and holidays – and the peak time of day for the horrible headaches is 7 in the morning.

The working-day effect on migraines has been reported before – perhaps a reflection of stress or, less charitably, people wanting a day off work… although some people suffer weekend migraines.

Of the working week, Tuesdays saw the most migraines, while Fridays were the least bad. About 80% of Twitter migraine mentions came from women – which matches the fact that women are at higher risk.

That’s according to a little study just published that used a public database of tweets, timeu.se, that Neuroskeptic readers may remember.

In fact, an author of this study said in an email to me that it was actually inspired by one of my posts… but I’m aware that telling you that, combined with the previous post, means I’m in danger of blowing my own trumpet or ‘disappearing up my own arse’ as we say in the UK. So rest assured that this will be the last such self-referential piece for at least… a day or two.

ResearchBlogging.orgLinnman, C., Maleki, N., Becerra, L., and Borsook, D. (2012). Migraine Tweets – What can online behavior tell us about disease? Cephalalgia DOI: 10.1177/0333102412465207

CATEGORIZED UNDER: blogging, mental health, papers, surveys
  • http://malwae.livejournal.com/ malwae

    As a migraine sufferer, I call shenannigans on anybody who says they have a migraine and can operate any sort of electronic device with a glowing screen to communicate about it at the same time.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06647064768789308157 Neuroskeptic

    They might have been saying “Oh no I think I'm getting a migraine, bye” though.

  • Clas Linnman

    malwae certainly has a good point.
    Another point that has come up is that people may wake up with migraines, so the onset may have been during the night. Or they may be forced to get up at 7am, leaving them sleep deprived, which in turn induces a migraine.
    Or maybe you just donĀ“t want to be a downer and tweet migraine on Thanksgiving. The Twitter and Google data can be interpreted in many ways.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04594432604835317193 ALRawi

    > an author said in an email to me that it was actually inspired by one of my posts…
    > but I'm aware that ..combined with the previous post, means I'm in danger of blowing my own trumpet or 'disappearing up my own arse' as we say in the UK.

    Perhaps the authors of 'Migraine Tweets' used neu..ic@gmail.com to contact you. If not, the guys are form Harvard Medical School, so, maybe you have coauthored a work with one of them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06647064768789308157 Neuroskeptic
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10303721137539319176 Keiren Mac

    I think that the amount of different Migraine triggers and responses render Malwae's comment a little too general.

    But I also think that there is a point in what he said, but regarding the fact that many of the people on twitter may be complaining of a migraine, but might just have a minor headache, or a hangover, they might not even know what a migraine is and relate it to any sort of head pain.

    So I would say that the chart is interesting, but doesn't point to anything conclusive except maybe how many people suffer from head pain of some sort at particular times.

    Also, I would say that though the fact that more women report it than men points more so towards a possible bias of women talking about themselves via social networks, and also what they are doing. i.e. a decent portion of women can get migraines from period pain, whereas men would more likely (I hope they aren't having periods) have triggers would bring this about suddenly during periods where they aren't actively on the internet. An example being that my migraines are triggered by very high-pitched noises after I suffered a car-crash a few years ago, also by major temperature swings like chinooks. Many others I know are also triggered by major temperature or air pressure changes or as Malwae said, certain visual stimuli.

    All-in-all I guess I mean to say that I don't find too much information in this chart.

    Love this blog though, keep it up!



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Neuroskeptic is a British neuroscientist who takes a skeptical look at his own field, and beyond. His blog offers a look at the latest developments in neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology through a critical lens.


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