Psychological Impacts of TMJ
In 2020 the National Academy of Medicine released a report on the sigma of TMJ disorder and its impact on a patient’s life.
In the report, it’s said that the stigma of TMJ can come internally and externally. Internally, patients can have previously held beliefs that they don’t need TMJ treatment to get better, and externally, those around the TMJ patient could think that it’s not that bad and that the sufferer is exaggerating. The truth is, TMJ can impact the fundamentals of the human experience such as smiling, laughing, speaking, eating, and intimacy.
Many TMJ patients report that they feel their family, friends, and loved ones don’t believe them and that practitioners have assumed that the pain is imagined or exaggerated. Patients have experienced hostility from their professional colleagues and a lack of understanding from their friends and loved ones.
Inexperienced physicians, dentists, and chiropractors have also steered patients wrong. Patients have said they’ve left a doctor’s office feeling unclear about their next steps or unheard and misunderstood. This stigma can leave patients feeling degraded and without dignity. This loss of self-esteem causes patients great mental and physical stress, often only worsening their condition.
A 2016 study that is still relevant today, showed that TMJ, depression, and anxiety are linked. 273 people with temporomandibular dysfunction were studied. Patients were categorized into three groups. Myofascial pain alone (chronic tissue and muscular pain), TMJ disorder alone, and TMJ disorder with myofascial pain. These groups were then evaluated on the Hospital Anxiety Depression scale. In the end, the study found that those who were considered to have anxiety and depression were female patients with a lack of social support who had either myofascial pain alone or myofascial pain with TMJ disorder. It was recommended that anxiety and depression should be considered in the treatment plan for TMJ disorder.