As far as treatments go CBT to treat tinnitus is widely recognised as the most effective.
Tinnitus affects almost one in five adults in today’s world. This is in part due to an aging population and also to the fact we now use things such as headphones at a loud volume that can begin to damage our hearing.
Because tinnitus is so widely problematic for so many people, there is constant research into both treatment and a potential cure.
While there is yet to be any kind of cure, given the nature of the problem, there have been some huge leaps forward in new treatments. Well studied therapies that previously had no link to tinnitus have begun to be utilized to help people suffering from this disorder.
This short article will cover what cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) actually is. It will also explain the proven and undisputed benefits of applying CBT to treat tinnitus.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the symptom of hearing loss that older people typically start to suffer from. This is not to say it is only present in people that are middle-aged and above, just that it is far more prevalent.
There is no shame in suffering from tinnitus and you’re not alone. In fact it’s estimated that around one in five people are thought to have it. It is largely under-reported because of only one in four of the people that have it even notice. The ringing noise associated with tinnitus simply doesn’t affect the majority of people. There are a few reasons that scientists believe this is, one of the biggest ones being that the inability to ignore the incessant ringing is because the noise is tied to negative thoughts and feelings. That’s why the application of these once thought irrelevant therapies may be far more beneficial than anyone realized.
What Is CBT?
CBT stands for cognitive behavioral therapy. It is one of the most common and most successful forms of therapy that is widely employed by therapists the world over. CBT is what you might picture when you imagine talking in a therapist’s office. It is a lot of asking questions about thoughts and feelings to get to the root of the problem. CBT is often used to help people with anxiety, depression, or social anxiety. Someone who can assess what their problem is but cannot change it on their own can often be left wondering why they feel a certain way and why they can’t change it. CBT can help with that tremendously.
This therapy teaches people new habits and new behaviors. It can be a long, occasionally life long, process but ultimately has a very high success rate. It is a far more proactive form of therapy. Someone who suffers from social awkwardness and the inability to communicate with others may get set homework by their therapist. It can be as comprehensive as a thought diary or something as simple as “talk to one stranger this week”. It can also be a way of forcing the patient to accept truths they might not be willing to on their own. This can be something as sad as that they were abused and have repressed feelings, or as happy as they need to understand that their family does love them. You may be left wondering how on earth can that help with tinnitus, here’s how.
Using CBT To Treat Tinnitus
You may be thinking that CBT couldn’t possibly have any relation to tinnitus. This was the theory for a long time until there was a discovery in the root cause of those that hear the ringing. As mentioned above, only one in four patients with tinnitus are bothered by the ringing, most tune it out on their own. The logic would then follow that there must be another factor causing people to be so disturbed by it. That factor is now believed to be negative thoughts and feelings. People who have attached negative thoughts and feelings to their tinnitus cannot simply tune out the ringing and it naturally becomes very stressful and upsetting. Creating more negative feelings and the cycle continues.
We can no deduce that the inability to simply ignore tinnitus is tied directly to negative thoughts and feelings that people are repressing or struggling to work through on their own. So, what then is the best method of working through those feelings? After all, if you can remove those feelings or at least healthily process them the noticeable symptoms of tinnitus should go away. In comes CBT. Through the use of CBT, tinnitus sufferers can not only improve their general happiness and wellbeing but potentially gain some relief from the incessant ringing noises their lives are plagued with. Regular therapy is good for anyone, those with tinnitus will find its benefit even more profound.
The Benefits Of CBT To Treat Tinnitus
There are several benefits from CBT that were mentioned above. The fact it is so universally beneficial to tinnitus suffers and others is, of course, important but it goes further than that. Currently, the most common treatment for someone with repressed feelings of negativity is strong medications. As is the treatment for those with tinnitus. CBT offers a drug-free alternative that is better for both the mind and the body. The results of a major study in Europe concluded that there were zero adverse effects from participants receiving this therapy. There was also evidence that the majority of people found some relief, at least in the short term. The therapy was ongoing for 22 weeks, the test subjects reported improvement for up to 6-12 months after that. Whether or not they would regress is not yet known. One could assume that if the therapy continued so would their relief. Seeing a therapist once a week isn’t for everyone, though.
Hopefully, you can now see the benefit of this once thought irrelevant therapy. It could offer a lot of help to anyone suffering from tinnitus, or any other negative thoughts/feelings. The process is shown to have no adverse effects so what’s the harm in trying? If it works, great. If it doesn’t, therapy can always be beneficial anyway. Whether or not CBT is right for you is, of course, up to you to find out.