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How Negative Thoughts Exacerbate Tinnitus

Tinnitus can be a constant source of stress. The negative emotions you associate with its side effects may worsen your symptoms. Understanding the relationship between tinnitus and negative thoughts will help you stop the vicious cycle.

Tinnitus and Anxiety

Your brain and nervous system are designed to react to dangerous stimuli with a fight or flight response to help you survive. The problem is your brain isn’t the best at discerning perceived danger from real danger. That’s why you’ll feel the adrenaline kick in when you hear ringing in your ears just as you would if you were facing down a lion.

Tinnitus causes you stress, which tells your mind there may be danger. Your fight or flight response kicks in and creates physical sensations, like increased heart rate and sweating, that you associate with fear or anxiety.

Negative Memory Bias

The thoughts you associate with your tinnitus determine your emotional reaction. Your emotions can heighten the intensity and quality of your suffering. They also shape the way you remember things, a phenomenon called negative memory bias.

Associating your tinnitus with its side effects will cause you to stress each time you recall it. That’s understandable because you likely only think about tinnitus when it’s adversely affecting you. But learning to control your reactions can help ease your suffering.

Coping with Negativity

  • Reframe negative thoughts: Catching your negative thoughts before they reach their peak can reduce the degree of suffering caused by your tinnitus. Ask yourself, when was the last time you felt like this? No matter the answer, there was always a period of distraction in between episodes. This forces your mind to focus on the periods of relief and eliminates the idea that your suffering is constant.
  • Be mindful of commiserating: It’s easy to let yourself get swept up in negativity when someone asks you about your tinnitus. It may feel like the bad days heavily outweigh the good ones. Making a conscious effort to talk about your periods of distraction, instead of your discomfort, will shape how you view your condition.
  • Set a morning routine: Try sleeping with a white noise machine or other sound masking device to reduce the perceived volume of your tinnitus. That way, you won’t wake up to the ringing in your ears. Don’t let yourself toss and turn if your tinnitus woke you up. Turn on your TV or radio and go about your morning routine to focus your mind.

The team at Audiology & Hearing Services of Charlotte has the expertise to help manage your tinnitus symptoms. Call 704-412-7975 or contact us online to find an audiologist in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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