Tinnitus: Addressing mental health can help

Mar 18, 2022 | Marie Suszynski, Writer | @mariemayohecs | Comments (4)

 

 

Tinnitus causes stress — that’s a fact that’s probably not surprising, considering how disruptive tinnitus can be to everyday life. Up to 60% of people with tinnitus report long-term emotional distress.

But what’s not as clear is which comes first, the tinnitus or the stress. Could stress be responsible for the develop­ment of tinnitus or the worsening of it?

The answer isn’t entirely clear, although some experts have noted that it’s com­mon for people to report that they had psychological distress before or during the onset of tinnitus.

One study compared people experiencing high levels of stress to those who were exposed to loud noises at their jobs and found that the probability of developing tinnitus was about the same between the two groups. If people were stressed and exposed to loud noises, their risk of developing tinnitus doubled.

Tinnitus is thought to be strongly influenced by how a person processes emotional stimuli, and it often appears alongside other mental health issues, like depression and anxiety.

Some experts think that people who experience worsening or disabling tinnitus are those who tend to react the most strongly to unpleasant sounds. In turn, they may be unable to “shut off” or effectively cope with stressors to lessen their negative impact.

In people with distressful tinnitus, images of the brain show that these re­sponses tend to be centered in the emotional center of the brain (amygdala), while people who have lower levels of tinnitus distress tend to bypass the amygdala and use parts of the brain responsible for problem-solving and judgment instead.

Because there’s likely a psychological component to tinnitus, addressing mental health through treatment with techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy is key. Cognitive behavioral therapy often involves interventions focused on changing negative thoughts and feelings about tinnitus, cutting out negative coping mechanisms, and increasing positive ways of coping.

In research focused on cognitive behavioral therapy as a treatment for tinnitus, study participants reported significant improvements in quality of life and depression following therapy. It didn’t change the volume of tinnitus they were experiencing, but it helped them cope with it. Medication used to help treat symptoms of anxiety and stress also may be helpful.

 

Chat with others about hearing and tinnitus in the Hearing Loss group.

 

Get clear answers to your questions about the health of your hearing with a copy of Mayo Clinic on Hearing and Balance.

 

 

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Tinnitus does not always cause stress. It odes not always go hand in hand with hearing loss. It's best not to make assumptions like those, even if it happens in the majority of cases. I'm now 68 yrs old. I've had tinnitus since 1963, I just didn't know it wasn't something everyone else had. I remember when it began, and I didn't think it was significant. I was a child then. Kids do things like that. Until, 2018. Even then, my hearing is extra ordinarily good and has been all my life. My siblings all say the same.

I can understand how some sounds that qualify as tinnitus might be truly difficult to bear 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, it seems to me that it's the worry it might mean hearing loss is around the corner, or that it means brain cancer, that makes it hard to bear. Neither thing is a given just because you get tinnitus. If you know, for sure, that nothing serious is wrong, enduring it would be much easier. Why not go with that, until proven otherwise?

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They have a valid point, but it also seems to me like predatory psychology to try and turn tinnitus into a mental health problem, with a mental health (or behavior health, same thing) diagnosis and the life of having to attend a Psychiatrist periodically, and "therapy" (of some kind) blah blah blah.

I've had tinnitus since 3rd grade. That's 1963. It was kinda a no big deal then, and it's still not a big deal. It is 24/7 and I only think of it when I found out it usually, supposedly, goes hand in hand with loss of hearing. I seriously doubt it is caused by stress. More like, when it happens to adults, or as a result of some injury, it causes people to stress. I do know there are more difficult types of tinnitus than others. As in, the sound they are constantly hearing.

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Since the exact cause and trigger of tinnitus isn't yet fully understood, it may receive as many comments as there are postings. I had and continue to have partial hearing loss over the last 5 years, now age 70. In my case, a 3 day long unresolved headache, probably triggered by the initial pfizer covid-19 vaccine in early 2021, brought on left ear tinnitus (I never had covid). After 2 weeks, prednisone was started. It helped diminish the sound to almost unnoticeable during the day. Not so at night. I've continued with the vax and eventually both boosters. The last Omicron booster aggravated tinnitus, followed by prednisone after 2 weeks. To little avail. I don't regret the vax, but moderate hearing loss along with long lasting migraines (in my case) seem to go hand-in-hand with aggravating tinnitus.

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@bb4bb747

Since the exact cause and trigger of tinnitus isn't yet fully understood, it may receive as many comments as there are postings. I had and continue to have partial hearing loss over the last 5 years, now age 70. In my case, a 3 day long unresolved headache, probably triggered by the initial pfizer covid-19 vaccine in early 2021, brought on left ear tinnitus (I never had covid). After 2 weeks, prednisone was started. It helped diminish the sound to almost unnoticeable during the day. Not so at night. I've continued with the vax and eventually both boosters. The last Omicron booster aggravated tinnitus, followed by prednisone after 2 weeks. To little avail. I don't regret the vax, but moderate hearing loss along with long lasting migraines (in my case) seem to go hand-in-hand with aggravating tinnitus.

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@bb4bb747, you may also be interested in following the Hearing Loss grou here: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/hearing-loss/

And connecting with other members dealing with tinnitus.

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