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The Psychological and Emotional Toll of Tinnitus

If you have not experienced the symptoms of tinnitus, it’s hard to imagine what a sufferer must endure. People with tinnitus describe hearing a constant ringing, buzzing, humming, or whistling in their ears. Some even compare the sound to crickets, falling water, hissing, or roaring.

Whatever the sound, most people who have been diagnosed with tinnitus also suffer from some degree of hearing loss. In fact, chronic tinnitus is often caused by noise-induced hearing loss. While there is no cure, the symptoms of tinnitus can often be successfully managed. Included in a management plan for any sufferer should be ways to cope with the psychological and emotional impact of the condition.

How Tinnitus Affects Emotional Well-Being

While the effect of tinnitus on a sufferer’s ability to hear and interact with the world around him may be obvious, what may not be apparent is how the sufferer is coping emotionally with the ringing in his ears. Along with struggling to hear, tinnitus patients often experience the following:

  • Feelings of distress
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability and frustration
  • Poor concentration
  • Pain

A 2014 study conducted by the American Tinnitus Association found that 62 percent of respondents report suffering from one or more of these conditions on a daily basis, with 7 percent reporting ongoing depression and 2 percent reporting the inability to work because of their tinnitus symptoms.

Treating the Emotional Effects of Tinnitus

When the emotional effects of tinnitus interfere with a person’s daily activities, work or social life, and relationships with other people, it is important that he or she seeks help. When a patient suffers from severe anxiety or depression, a doctor may prescribe an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. These drugs will not treat the tinnitus itself, but can alleviate the dangerous psychological side effects.

Patients whose emotional symptoms are not so serious may have success with behavioral therapy. Whether in one-on-one sessions or in a group setting, working with a behavioral therapist can reduce the distress, frustration, anger, and mood swings suffered by tinnitus patients. Participants learn to reduce their internal focus on the sound in their head and channel their attention towards pleasant distractions. They learn relaxation techniques and how to replace negative thinking with positive and productive thoughts and behaviors.

How a Hearing Care Professional Can Help

At Professional Hearing Care Center in Lakeland, our hearing care professionals will treat your hearing loss, which can alleviate some of the most severe symptoms of tinnitus. We will also recommend other therapies and practitioners who can help you cope with the emotional side effects. Call our office at 888-906-4199 to make an appointment to discuss how we can ease your tinnitus symptoms.