If you suffer from tinnitus in Chelmsford or Nashua, you know how disturbing that ringing in your ears can be. In addition to interfering with sleep and impacting work, tinnitus can cause a great deal of mental distress. While there is no cure, there are steps you can take to help reduce its impact on your life.
Tinnitus May Cause Stress & Depression
Probably the top reason a cure for tinnitus has yet to be found is because it affects everybody differently. Not only are the symptoms unique to each individual (it can manifest as a ringing, hissing, roaring, whooshing, clicking or humming sound), its frequency, duration and intensity vary from person to person. Tinnitus is so debilitating to some individuals, a Swedish study in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery found that people with severe tinnitus have higher rates of suicide. Another study in the American Journal of Audiology found evidence of a link between suicidal and self-harm thoughts in adults who had experienced mental illness such as anxiety, depression and anger as children.
Discussing Your Tinnitus and Mental Health Helps
Those with tinnitus in Chelmsford and Nashua are likely to experience anxiety, stress and depression, at least to some degree. The American Tinnitus Association estimates that 75 percent of people with severe tinnitus suffer from these and other behavioral disorders, but the majority of medical professionals avoid any discussion concerning the mental health burden that accompanies tinnitus. Experts believe an honest conversation about these issues can lead to improvements in the quality of life for tinnitus patients.
Caroline J. Schmidt, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Yale Medicine in New Haven, CT, says, “Audiologists should be aware that patients with tinnitus are potentially fragile emotionally, especially during the early months following onset of tinnitus.”
Although there is no cure, coping strategies can make a positive difference for individuals with tinnitus. Sound therapy (white noise), hearing aids, counseling and breathing/relaxation exercises can all help reduce stress and the accompanying mental burden.
Additional strategies include the following:
- Learn acceptance. Learn as much as possible about tinnitus (causes, symptoms, treatment options) so you can understand that it is nothing more than a sound that triggers emotional responses in the brain and you don’t have much control over it.
- Turn negative thoughts into positive ones. If you can stop dwelling on the negatives and try instead to practice reality-based reasoning, you’ll be able to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Developing a mantra you can repeat to yourself when you are feeling down can help put matters into perspective.
- Make a good night’s sleep a priority. Many tinnitus sufferers have trouble sleeping because of the distracting noise. You can improve your odds of getting a good night’s sleep by listening to white noise through an app (or turning on a fan or air conditioner), limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption in the evening, turning off electronic devices that emit blue light, sleeping in a fully darkened room and setting the thermostat to 60-68 degrees, the ideal temperature for promoting sleep. Learn some deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation exercises, as well.
- Keep up with your favorite activities. Tinnitus can make you feel like avoiding your favorite activities, but engaging in those hobbies and pastimes that bring you joy will help keep you connected, preventing isolation and reducing mental side effects.
Tinnitus poses many challenges, but keep in mind that help is available. Your audiologist in Chelmsford or Nashua has solutions that will help calm the distraction and ease your mental burden. Contact them today to schedule an appointment.