How To Overcome Anxiety Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a very common condition, but it can impact a person’s everyday life negatively.
People with tinnitus can experience serious anxiety and a sense of dread which can make everything much worse.
Knowing what to do when you are experiencing anxiety tinnitus and severe tinnitus is important so that you can try to manage the situation in a way that suits you and makes you feel better and less anxious.
This guide will look at how to overcome anxiety tinnitus and some coping techniques and behavioral therapies when it flares up.
But first, we’ll take a glance at what exactly anxiety tinnitus is.
What Exactly Is Anxiety Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a condition where somebody might be hearing a high-pitched tone, a hum, a buzz, whistling or even in some rarer cases – singing, music and voices.
It’s a condition that can happen with or without anxiety and can affect one or both ears.
People that experience tinnitus can have further hearing problems, and it can negatively impact their sleep, their relationships and their general daily lives.
The exact cause is yet unknown, but there are some common factors. People who have hearing loss are more likely to experience tinnitus as well as:
- People exposed to loud noises or loud sounds
- Those with a broken hearing aid
- Ear wax that has impacted the person’s inner-ear
- People after a car accident or after a head injury
- People with ear infections
- People with anxiety or those experiencing significant stress
In other less common situations, the condition can also be caused by dental problems or even life-threatening health problems.
What Is The Link With Tinnitus And Anxiety
The exact link between the two conditions is yet unknown, but what we do know is that anxiety can cause a number of psychological and physiological manifestations which can make other symptoms like tinnitus worse.
Some have reported that their tinnitus flares up when they are experiencing increased stress or a high level of anxiety or even during anxiety attacks.
When our brain registers something as a threat, the body will sometimes exhibit physiological symptoms that are associated with anxiety.
- Anger or irritation
- Low concentration
- Poor self-esteem
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty breathing
- Digestive troubles
Some of these symptoms can also lead to a tinnitus flare-up and the relationship between tinnitus and anxiety is not yet classified as causal, but rather people with it experience a symbiotic relationship.
In simpler terms, one does not cause the other – they can go either way, but can be experienced both at the same time.
How To Cope When You’re Experiencing Tinnitus
Unfortunately, there is no medical cure for tinnitus, and no real cure for anxiety either.
Both conditions can be managed though in certain ways to try to decrease the situation’s severity.
Here are some ways to seek treatment for tinnitus.
Speak With A Doctor
The first thing to do if you’ve recently started experiencing tinnitus is to speak with a doctor.
There could be a number of reasons why you’re recently feeling symptoms of tinnitus and this can be increasing your anxiety levels.
If your doctor notices an obvious cause, they may be able to provide you with medical treatments – but if not, they will be able to refer you for further treatments.
A doctor might be able to notice an obvious cause from your initial consultation caused by something like a dental problem or head injury.
If this is the case, they will refer you to a dentist or head specialist. However, this might not be that simple.
Therefore, more typically, a doctor will refer you initially to an ENT (or Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist.
They will provide a full assessment of your ear and will be able to diagnose if you have an obvious cause (like impacted ear wax for example).
Speak With An Audiologist
If you know you have hearing loss or there are no other reasons for your tinnitus, it might be beneficial to speak with an audiologist.
They can often be found in opticians, referred by your doctor or have their own practice.
Hearing aids are sometimes helpful for people with tinnitus, as they can frequently improve your hearing but also boost other environmental noises and reduce ringing by taking your mind off them as the sounds of other things are now more prominent.
A similar method is employed by an audiologist if they choose to go for a hearing aid.
There is a device they can include within the hearing aid known as a masker, which will generate other sounds to make your mind move away from the high-pitched sounds experienced by tinnitus.
Sound therapy can also be beneficial. Some people notice their tinnitus flares up worse in very quiet situations, which is why some people struggle to sleep at night as they notice their condition worsens.
Some sound therapies include listening to quiet, white noise at night, or putting headphones in during quiet times and listening to relaxing apps which can generate sounds to help you calm.
If anxiety is the main trigger for your tinnitus, seeking out a counselor can prove to be the best thing to do.
The counselor might put you on a course of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).
This aims to train your brain into rethinking certain situations which will then cause new physiological actions.
One method employed by counselors for those with anxiety is known as grounding.
This is where the person will place their hands onto a solid object and practice breathing techniques to try to ground themselves and feel better.
While there is no cure for tinnitus or anxiety and the relationship between the two is still under research, there are the above methods you can take to help you cope with the symptoms of the conditions.
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT
Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.
Last updated: September 24, 2023