For those plagued by an inescapable feeling of being wound-up, restless, and who live with uncontrollable worry, it can be tempting to assume it’s all in their head. People that live caught in this web of anxiety don’t know anything else. But it can actually be a sign of something physical. Anxiety can be a sign of TMJ disorder.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
People with diagnosed Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or who regularly experience the clutches of anxiety are all too familiar with the symptoms:
- Restlessness, feeling wound-up
- Muscle tension
- Fatigue or being tired
- Having trouble concentrating
- Uncontrollable worrying
- Sleep problems (falling asleep, staying asleep, and unsatisfying sleep)
It Might Be a Sign
Temporo Mandibular Dysfunction (TMD) or more accurately, Cranio Cervical Mandibular Dysfunction (CCMD) refers to poor alignment of the lower jaw to the head and neck. The muscles and joints of the jaw and neck that have to compensate for this misalignment, can cause symptoms if a person’s adaptive capacity is exceeded. When this happens, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, triggering a “fight or flight” response.
This “fight or flight” response bears striking similarities to anxiety. Both conditions are marked by muscle tension, restlessness, and feeling wound up. So while a person may believe or be told that it’s in their head, there are several physical explanations for this phenomenon including TMJ dysfunction.
More Evidence of the Anxiety-TMJ Disorder Connection
Despite the strong evidence supporting the triggering of the parasympathetic nervous system, there is another mechanism by which this jaw disorder can present as or cause anxiety. For example, underdeveloped jaws and poorly aligned jaws often leave inadequate space in the mouth for the tongue. This becomes especially dangerous during sleep because the tongue can rest deeper into the airway due to that lack of resting space in the mouth blocking oxygen intake known as obstructive sleep apnea.
During episodes of a sleep apnea, the body also goes into ‘fight or flight’ due to th lack of oxygen and releasing stress hormones as a result that circulate even after waking up.
A Life Without TMD-Related Anxiety
If you struggle with generalized anxiety disorder and have noticed difficulty with your jaw, TMD treatment may help to resolve both. For more information about your unique case and to learn if TMD treatment may help reduce or elimate your anxiety, scedule a consultation with Dr. Raman by calling (816) 436-4422.