One of the big challenges in our lives is forging and maintaining social relationships. Time management, self-esteem, employment, and hygiene are a few factors that can make maintaining relationships easier or more difficult. Frequent migraines caused by TMJ can make this already challenging task seem insurmountable. Focusing on something as simple as a conversation while you are suffering from a headache can make social interaction unpleasant. These invisible symptoms can lead to social isolation.
Social Withdrawal and Isolation
A study of women who suffer from frequent migraines found that frequent headaches caused feelings of isolation even in individuals who had many social interactions in a day. Participants in the study expressed feeling that they could not focus on interactions and happenings around them, which made them feel more distant from the situation. In many instances, sufferers felt isolated by being the only person in the room experiencing head pain.
The need to plan ahead to attend or host social gatherings was also a contributing factor in social isolation for these women. Because headache pain is mostly unpredictable, people who suffer from frequent headaches do not know when their pain will flare up. The desire to avoid situations where social plans are spoiled or canceled due to a nasty headache may lead people to forgo making plans all together. In some situations, a person may feel like an outcast because they have missed a large number of social gatherings or important meetings that have made them look irresponsible.
Benefits of Social Interaction
The benefits of social interaction are widely studied, proving again and again that social interaction is an important part of physical and mental health. Isolation has been associated with illness and increased levels of pain. Supportive relationships can give people hope and stave off depression when struggling with being unwell. Falling into depression can lead to reduced motivation to practice self-care, decreased energy levels, and increased intake of fatty and sugary foods.
Treating your TMJ Headaches
For some, it may seem like TMJ headaches are a manageable pain that can be put on the back burner. Living with frequent headaches may seem like no big deal. Avoiding certain social situations due to head pain might not seem like a problem at first. It may take many missed opportunities before a person realizes that their headaches are interfering with their lives.