Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing a ringing in the ear and can range from a sporadic annoyance to debilitation. Those suffering from tinnitus experience a number of symptoms including difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating and increased stress.
Understanding how stress and tinnitus impact each other can help you seek the right treatment and improve your quality of life.
What Is Stress?
Stress occurs when the demands placed on you are not matched by your biological, psychological or social resources.
Surprisingly, stress is not always a bad thing. Small amounts of stress can help push you forward or focus on the task at hand. When you are stress your body releases hormones to power your fight of flight response. When the situation has passed, your body stops producing the hormones and goes back to normal.
When you are constantly stressed, your body continues to produce the hormones. This can have a number of consequences on your health, including:
- Depression and anxiety
- Cardiovascular disease
- Skin and hair problems
- Gastrointestinal issues
Cognitive behavioral therapy says that in addition to your current situation, how you think about what is happening and what you do in response to it (your thoughts and behaviors) can contribute to your stress.
The Tinnitus and Stress Cycle
High levels of stress can cause tinnitus. Tinnitus can lead to high levels of stress.
When someone with tinnitus begins to think about how much the ringing in their ears negatively affects them, they will begin to fixate and worry about upcoming episodes of tinnitus. This worry can lead to stress. The additional stress will then lead to worsening tinnitus.
This can easily become a cycle.
In order to break free from this cycle, you will have to change your thoughts and behaviors.
Tinnitus Treatment to Reduce Stress
The cognitive-behavioral model says that you can reduce unpleasant feelings by changing your thoughts and behaviors.
Your thoughts can impact how you feel. Next time you think about your tinnitus, do the following:
- Became aware of the situations that make you feel especially stressed.
- Ask yourself what you were thinking at that moment and write that down.
- Evaluate the thoughts you wrote down, paying close attention to if they were true, what evidence you have for or against them, and if were they helpful.
By following these steps, you will begin to develop more helpful things to say to yourself about your tinnitus. Changing your messaging can help you reduce the impact tinnitus has on your life.
Changing how you manage your tinnitus by incorporating new behaviors into your routine can help focus your attention on activities rather than on your bothersome tinnitus. The following have been found to help reduce stress levels associated with tinnitus:
- Making time for yourself
- Changing other aspects of your life that cause you stress
- Talking to supportive people
Changing how you think and behave is just one treatment option for tinnitus. To learn more, contact the experts at Total Hearing Care of Dallas today.