Blaming Yourself for Tinnitus Can Actually Make It Worse

man depressed sitting against brick wall.

Could it have been all of those loud concerts? The loud environment at work? If I wore earplugs would I have prevented this?

Stop it! It’s time to come to terms with the fact that you have tinnitus. You can’t get rid of it, but there are tinnitus treatments that will make it better.

Take this energy and focus on now—start living your best life. Your worrying may even be making the condition worse.

Let’s look at how anxiety and depression can impact tinnitus and what you can do to stop this cycle of “should of’s” going through your mind.

How are anxiety/depression and tinnitus connected?

Much research has been done to link tinnitus and mental health disorders. While you may think that tinnitus causes anxiety, it may just as easily be anxiety or depression making your tinnitus worse.

In fact, a study found that tinnitus is strongly connected to how we process emotions. This may explain why tinnitus can cause such strong emotional feelings.

Study participants were asked to listen to a series of sounds. Some were pleasant sounds like a babbling brook or a kind voice. Others set out to evoke emotion like a baby crying, a car horn blaring, or a Cold War siren.

With an fMRI, they studied how the brains reacted. Those with tinnitus processed sound-related emotions in a very different part of the brain than those without.

This is not to say that anxiety causes tinnitus. But it does help explain how anxiety and depression, which are associated with strong emotions, can make the condition worse.

Improving tinnitus by minimizing anxiety and depression

Individuals may be able to improve their tinnitus by lowering anxiety and depression levels. We know this is easier said than done.

There are plenty of at-home and clinical methods that may help you improve your symptoms and mental health.


Relaxation methods like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or other activities that help you relax can reduce your symptoms.


Exercise improves blood flow in your ears, brain, and throughout the body. That means cells are getting more of the life-giving oxygen and nutrients they need.

Physical activity also helps balance hormones like the fight or flight hormones that can contribute to anxiety.

Replace negative thoughts with positive self talk

You may not even realize that you have a negative script running through your thoughts every waking hour and much of your sleep time.

If you frequently think about not having enough of something, blame yourself or others for things, or have “what-if’s and “I should have’s” running through your brain, it’s time to flip the script.

Reflect on the things you appreciate. Find joy in the little things and moments of happiness. Recognize and celebrate all the accomplishments in your life.

Keep a gratefulness journal

Each day, commit to writing down five things that you’re grateful for.

The more you focus on the good stuff, the more you’ll realize how much good stuff there actually is in your life. You’ll find that you receive more of it when you start looking for it.

Even the people around you will often start acting differently.

Be patient with yourself

Your tinnitus might not get better immediately. You might slip back into a state of worry. Just keep working at it.

Biofeedback therapy

A doctor will hook you up to sensors. You’ll focus on controlling various involuntary functions like breathing, heart rate, muscle tension, etc.

Sound therapy

A specialist may have you listen to a series of sounds that, over time, can reduce the tinnitus symptoms.

Wear your hearing aid

Untreated hearing loss has been closely linked to anxiety and depression. Those with untreated hearing loss are 50% more likely to have depression symptoms than those who wear their hearing aids. They were 30% more likely to have anxiety.

Wearing your hearing aid may not only reduce some mental health symptoms. A hearing aid can also be set to emit a sound that helps reduce tinnitus.

Your hearing specialist will collaborate with you to discover strategies that alleviate your tinnitus symptoms. Don’t wait to schedule an appointment. 

Want more information?

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