June 28, 2022

Can TMD trigger Anxiety and Depression?

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Anxiety and depression might be one of many causes of the development of the TMJ pain (Dıraçoglua, Yıldırım, Saral et al., 2016). In the United States the risk of experiencing temporomandibular joint pain is very high, it’s estimated that 65-85% people will experience some kind of the TMJ symptoms. The pain might be connected to psychological stress, for example grinding teeth during the night (Bruxism). Stress tightens up muscles in the shoulders, neck, might trigger “holding” within the mandible tight. Many people are not aware of the tightness within the joint and the jaw.

The following study performed in 2016 on 273 patients, between 18-65 years old shows the connection between the stress and TMD pain. All patients had symptoms of temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD). Some had myofascial pain alone, some patients had TMJ disorder alone and some had symptoms of both myofascial and TMD pain. The post study analysis shows that females with myofascial pain were more prone to the anxiety and/or depression. According to the analysis, females responded that stress and insufficient social support had the biggest influenced the symptoms of anxiety and/or depression (Dıraçoglua, Yıldırım, Saral et al., 2016). 72.3% of the female responders answered that the stress influenced the jaw and head pain.
The researchers suggest that the best methodology of treating TMD disorders should consider treating both musculoskeletal pathologies as well as mental stress that accompanies the fascial and head discomforts.

Written by Ania Haas MS. LMT.

Dıraçoglua, D., Yıldırım, N. K., Saral, İ., Özkan, M., Karan, A., Özkan, S., & Aksoy, C. (2016). Temporomandibular dysfunction and risk factors for anxiety and depression.
Journal of Back & Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, 29(3), 487–491.

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