The mind and the body have a powerful connection. When you have chronic stress, it takes a toll on your entire body. Research has shown us time and again that stress can hurt your physical and mental health in many ways.
Although health conditions are caused by a variety of factors, there is evidence to suggest that the following conditions can be caused or aggravated by chronic, high levels of stress:
Depression and Anxiety
These behavioral issues have a close link to high stress levels. Chronic stress can make you more likely to develop these problems, and stressful events can lead to a major depressive episode or anxiety attack.
Anxiety is often a reaction to stress, and more frequent episodes of anxiety may lead to a chronic anxiety disorder that becomes difficult for a person to control on their own.
These disorders can harm your jaw too. Many of our patients suffer from anxiety or depression, causing them to grind their teeth more and aggravate their temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
You’ve probably felt what stress can do to your heart rate: your pulse speeds up. In addition, stress may cause your body to release more cholesterol into your blood, which increases your risk for heart disease in the long term. In severe cases, a stressful event can trigger a heart attack. Those with heart problems should work diligently to avoid major stress as much as possible while working with their physicians to keep heart disease risk factors under control.
A tension headache is a prime indicator of stress. Even people who aren’t prone to headaches tend to get tension headaches when stressful events happen. And if you have a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), you may be more prone to headaches due to the swelling and inflammation in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which can aggravate tension headaches in many people.
Stress can aggravate pain, and pain can cause stress. Together, they create a difficult cycle to break that can severely impact a person’s life. The pain can occur almost anywhere, but those with TMD may find that they experience pain in the face, jaw, and neck more often.
The Strong Link Between Stress and TMD
Many of the patients we see are dealing with high levels of stress. These are major contributing factors to their TMD symptoms. Headaches, jaw pain, difficulty sleeping, and earaches can be traced back to periods of high stress.
What Do I Do About it?
If you’re stressed, you know it’s not just about “snapping out of it.” In fact, your mind and body need to actually be re-trained to handle the stress response differently, and this can have a positive impact on your health. Practices such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, regular exercise, and using natural cures such as essential oils can help. While these things won’t eliminate stress, they can help you learn how to cope with it in a more healthful way. This is one of the keys to successful TMD treatment — and a healthier life!
Are you experiencing symptoms of TMD and high stress levels? If so, you need a comprehensive approach to help you get to the root of the problem, including stress management techniques. Contact MedCenter TMJ today to learn how we can help!