Can “TMJ” and anxiety disorder symptoms have that much in common? Both anxiety and TMJ disorders can manifest themselves in countless ways, which can often make diagnosis and treatment challenging. Is there a cross-over between them? The answers might surprise you.
According to research published in Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is believed to stem from misfiring in the function of the amygdala, the area in the brain where fear and anxiety are processed. Symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder include:
Irritability and mood swings
Trouble concentrating and focusing
Poor alignment of the jaws, also called TemporoMandibular Dysfunction (TMD) can cause strain on the temporomandibular joints leading to TMJD and also on the adjacent structures of the body. This imbalance and corresponding muscle strain can trigger the sympathetic nervous system. Once enacted, the nervous system responsible for your “fight or flight” response responds by:
Tightening your muscles
Shutting down digestive processes
Increasing breathing rates
Do these symptoms sound familiar? Comparing both sets of symptoms shows considerable overlap. When engaged, both trigger a tightening or tension of muscles, interfere with the digestive tract, and increase heart and breathing rates.
Or is there a common cause for both TMD symptoms and General Anxiety Disorder?
Can TMD Cause Anxiety?
Optimal body posture requires balance. Balance between muscles, bones, and joints produces alignment and reduces strain. One of the key locations for balance in the body is the temporomandibular joint which in turn affects the upper part of the cervical spine – atlas and axis. When the neck is poorly aligned, it can affect the entire body down to the feet. If not in alignment, the TMJ can cause malocclusion, headaches, and mental stress. The mind and body work together in a synergistic relationship to produce optimal operating conditions. They do this through electrical impulses through the nerves and signals transferred via neurotransmitters. When the body exhibits signs of stress, those stressful feelings are delivered to the brain and can induce feelings of anxiety.
Treating Anxiety by Treating TMJ
By targeting the temporomandibular joint, TMJ specialists can recreate the natural balance needed at the joint. By creating balance at this position in the body, specialists like Dr. Vikas can also help produce balance in the mind for many patients, not only by alleviating the triggering of the sympathetic nervous system but also by helping to reduce the distracting pain many people experience.