When two or more health conditions occur together, they are said to be comorbidities. A common comorbidity of tinnitus is anxiety, and together they can create a cycle where one condition exacerbates the other. Below we review the connection between these two conditions.
When you think of anxiety, you probably think of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which causes symptoms like:
- Feeling nervous, tense or restless
- Experiencing a sense of danger or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly or hyperventilating
- Sweating excessively
- Trouble concentrating
- Problems sleeping
- Avoiding triggers
There are other types of anxiety disorders too, including agoraphobia, panic disorder, social anxiety, specific phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Tinnitus is a phantom sound heard in the ears that has no external sound source. It may sound like:
Tinnitus affects everyone differently. For some it is a mild nuisance, while for others it is a debilitating experience. Some people only hear it in quiet places like Haggard Library on Coit Road, while others hear it all the time.
The Link Between Anxiety & Tinnitus
According to one study, “A 45% lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders is reported in tinnitus populations.” This means that approximately 45% of people with chronic tinnitus also experience anxiety symptoms.
This is thought to be since anxiety causes physical changes in the body, including increased blood pressure, which can lead to tinnitus. Additionally, experiencing tinnitus can make things feel out of your control, which can cause anxiety. One condition exacerbates the other, and you can find yourself stuck in a vicious cycle.
If you’re suffering from anxiety and tinnitus, know there are ways to get help.
Anxiety disorder can be treated by a mental health professional and involve a combination of:
- Stress management and relaxation techniques
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating well
Tinnitus can be treated by an audiologist and involve the following tinnitus management therapies:
- Tinnitus retraining therapy
- Hearing aids
- Tinnitus maskers
- White noise machines
- Dietary changes
For more information about the link between anxiety and tinnitus, or to schedule an appointment with a tinnitus expert, call Sharp Hearing – The Audiology Center today.