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Articles | Tinnitus

Coping with the Mental Burden of Tinnitus

woman thinking about tinnitus

The phantom sounds of tinnitus, most often described as a ringing sound, can be extremely bothersome. Around 50 million Americans experience tinnitus to some degree and for millions it can be so severe that it causes mental distress.

The symptoms of tinnitus often cause other mental health issues. According to the American Tinnitus Association, an estimated 48%-78% of patients with severe tinnitus also experience depression, anxiety, or another type of behavioral disorder.

Does Tinnitus Affect Everyone the Same?

No, tinnitus does not affect everyone the same way. Everyone experiences tinnitus differently. For some, tinnitus may be temporary while others may experience it on a regular basis. The symptoms of tinnitus can range from a ringing, humming, buzzing, whistling, or whooshing sound that is heard in the ears or head. It can range from mildly annoying to debilitating.

For those with severe tinnitus, the constant ringing can keep you up all night, affecting your sleep, energy, memory, and overall mental health. Tinnitus can make it difficult to concentrate and often leads to an increase in stress levels.

According to a study conducted by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, persistent tinnitus has been linked to an increase in suicide cases. The study showed that 9% of women and 5.5% of men with severe tinnitus attempted suicide.

Severe tinnitus can be disruptive and feel so overwhelming that you may not know what to do. But you do have options.

Options for Tinnitus Management

Although there is currently no cure for tinnitus, there are management strategies that can help alleviate the severity of your symptoms. Sound therapy, counseling, meditation, hearing aids, and relaxation exercises have all been shown to help reduce the symptoms of tinnitus.

In addition to these strategies, there are also a few techniques for easing the burden of tinnitus.

  • Acceptance that tinnitus is triggered by an emotional response in the brain.
  • Turning negative thoughts into positive ones, because when you dwell on negative thoughts you tend to experience negative emotions, such as stress and anxiety.
  • Set yourself up for a good night’s sleep by listening to white noise at night and avoiding caffeine.
  • Keep enjoying your favorite activities and don’t let tinnitus keep you from the things you love.

Living with tinnitus isn’t always easy, but you’re not alone. If you are struggling with your mental health because of severe tinnitus, call a friend or loved one for support. Help is also available at the Crisis Hotline at 988.

Find a local provider near you who specializes in tinnitus today. An audiologist can discuss your options and help you find strategies to cope with tinnitus.

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