Original Report| Volume 13, ISSUE 12, P1188-1197, December 2012

Depressive and Anxiety Symptoms as Risk Factors for Temporomandibular Joint Pain: A Prospective Cohort Study in the General Population

Published:November 09, 2012DOI:


      Previous studies have associated depression and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs). The temporality, however, remains to be clarified. Most patient studies have selected subjects from treatment facilities, whereas in epidemiological studies a clinical examination has not been performed. In this study the 5-year follow-up data of the population-based Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP) were analyzed. To estimate the effect of symptoms of depression and those of anxiety on the risk of TMD pain, the Composite International Diagnostic-Screener (CID-S) and a clinical functional examination with palpation of the temporomandibular joint and the masticatory muscles were used. After exclusion of subjects having joint pain at baseline, a sample of 3,006 Caucasian participants with a mean age of 49 years resulted. Of those, 122 participants had signs of TMD joint pain upon palpation. Subjects with symptoms of depression had an increased risk of TMD joint pain upon palpation (rate ratio: 2.1; 95% confidence interval: 1.5–3.0; P < .001). Anxiety symptoms were associated with joint and with muscle pain. The diagnosis, prevention, and therapy of TMD pain should also consider symptoms of depression and those of anxiety, and appropriate therapies if necessary.


      Depressive and anxiety symptoms should be considered as risk factors for TMD pain. Depressive symptoms are specific for joint pain whereas anxiety symptoms are specific for muscle pain, findings that deserve detailed examination. These findings may support decision-making in treating TMD.

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