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Can Tinnitus Be Caused By Anxiety?

Est. Reading: 7 minutes

Written by kyle ON April 23, 2023

Have you ever had a ringing or buzzing sensation in your ears? If this is the case, you may have tinnitus, a condition that affects up to 15% of the population. There are numerous causes of tinnitus; recent research suggests that anxiety may play a significant role in the development and persistence of tinnitus symptoms.

Tinnitus and anxiety are commonly associated because tinnitus can be a cause and a symptom of anxiety. For some people, tinnitus can be very distressing, causing anxiety and even depression. On the other hand, anxiety can worsen tinnitus symptoms, making them more noticeable and difficult to manage.

According to research, tinnitus is more common in anxious people, and the severity of tinnitus can worsen with anxiety because anxiety can cause physical symptoms like muscle tension and high blood pressure, which can worsen tinnitus.

Techniques such as relaxation exercises, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and mindfulness meditation have been shown to reduce anxiety and improve tinnitus symptoms.

In this article, we will discuss the relationship between tinnitus and anxiety, including how anxiety can cause or exacerbate tinnitus symptoms and how CBD can help reduce their symptoms.

 

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a condition characterized by the perception of sound in the ears or head without any external source. The sound may be described as ringing, buzzing, hissing, whistling, or other similar sounds. Tinnitus can occur in one or both ears and can be constant or intermittent.

While tinnitus is not a serious health problem, it can be very distressing and impair a person's quality of life. Tinnitus can make it difficult to concentrate, sleep, and perform daily tasks, causing anxiety and depression.

 

What Causes Tinnitus?

It can be caused by various factors, and it is difficult to identify a single cause. Some common causes of tinnitus include:

  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Loud noise exposure
  • Ear infections
  • Earwax buildup
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Some medications (such as antibiotics, diuretics, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Meniere's disease
  • Tumors

 

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural response to stress or danger. It is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear that can be mild or severe. While anxiety is a normal and common emotion, it can be problematic when it becomes excessive, persistent, or interferes with a person's daily life.

Anxiety can manifest in physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. Sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, and gastrointestinal problems are all possible physical symptoms of anxiety.

Emotional and behavioral symptoms may include restlessness, irritability, a constant sense of worry or fear, and trouble sleeping.

 

What Causes Anxiety?

Anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors, including biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Some common causes of anxiety include:

Genetics (People with a family history of anxiety disorders are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder themselves)

Brain chemistry (Changes in neurotransmitters)

Life events (Traumatic or stressful events)

Medical conditions (Such as thyroid disorders, heart disease, or respiratory disorders)

The use of drugs or alcohol can contribute to anxiety

Environmental factors (Exposure to stressful or traumatic environments, such as violence or abuse).

 

Relationship between Tinnitus and Anxiety

Tinnitus and anxiety are strongly related, and people who suffer from tinnitus frequently experience anxiety and stress due to the constant presence of the tinnitus sound. The perception of sound in the ears without any external source can be distressing, and the inability to control or eliminate the sound can lead to feelings of helplessness and frustration. This can trigger or worsen anxiety, which in turn can exacerbate tinnitus symptoms, creating a vicious cycle.

Furthermore, anxiety can make it difficult to sleep, concentrate, and perform daily tasks, which can increase stress and worsen tinnitus symptoms. People suffering from severe tinnitus may also experience social isolation and depression, which can further contribute to anxiety.

On the other hand, tinnitus can also cause anxiety in people who have not previously experienced anxiety symptoms. The constant noise can be overwhelming and distracting, causing anxiety and stress.

Treatment for tinnitus and anxiety often involves managing both conditions at the same time. Anxiety and stress caused by tinnitus can be managed with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other relaxation techniques.

Sound therapy, which uses white noise or other sounds to mask tinnitus, may also help manage both conditions. Antidepressants or antianxiety medications may also be prescribed to help manage anxiety symptoms.

 

Tinnitus Anxiety Medication

Tinnitus and anxiety can be difficult to manage, and there is no single medication that can treat both conditions at the same time. However, there are medications available to treat each condition separately.

Anxiety Medications: Several classes of medications, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers, may be effective for anxiety. SSRIs are commonly used to treat GAD, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, whereas benzodiazepines may be used to provide short-term relief from anxiety symptoms. Beta-blockers may be prescribed for social anxiety or performance anxiety.

Tinnitus Medications: There is currently no medication that can cure tinnitus; however, some medications may help to reduce the severity of symptoms. These may include tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline, which can help reduce tinnitus perception, or anticonvulsants like gabapentin, which can help reduce tinnitus-related distress.

Moreover, CBD has been shown to help with anxiety and tinnitus symptoms.

 

CBD for Tinnitus and Anxiety

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in the cannabis plant that has been studied for its potential therapeutic effects. While research is ongoing, some studies suggest that CBD may have potential benefits for treating tinnitus and anxiety symptoms.

CBD may help in the treatment of tinnitus symptoms by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the auditory system. Furthermore, CBD may help modulate neural activity in the brain associated with tinnitus, potentially reducing the intensity of tinnitus sounds.

CBD may also be beneficial in the treatment of anxiety symptoms. Some research suggests that CBD may help regulate serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation. CBD may also help in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder.

While CBD has the potential to help with tinnitus and anxiety, it is important to note that research in these areas is still ongoing, and more studies are needed to determine the effectiveness and safety of CBD for these conditions.

 

CBD Dosage for Tinnitus and Anxiety

The optimal CBD dosage for tinnitus and anxiety may vary depending on individual factors such as body weight, tolerance, and severity of symptoms. Always start with a low dose and gradually increase until the desired effect is achieved.

According to the World Health Organization, CBD is generally well-tolerated and has a good safety profile, with no evidence of significant side effects.  However, it is important to note that individual responses to CBD may vary, and some people may experience side effects such as fatigue, dry mouth, and changes in appetite or mood.

CBD users recommend a dosage range of 300-600 mg/day for anxiety and 120-160 mg/day for tinnitus; however, some people may require higher or lower doses.

Before taking CBD for tinnitus or anxiety, consult with a healthcare professional as they can provide you with dosage guidance, potential side effects, and any drug interactions.

 

How to Treat Tinnitus Caused by Stress?

Tinnitus can be caused by various factors, including stress and anxiety. If you suspect that your tinnitus is caused by stress, here are some strategies that may help:

Relaxing Techniques: Stress-reduction techniques like deep breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation can help to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. These techniques can be especially beneficial in reducing the symptoms of stress-related tinnitus.

Exercise Regularly: Regular exercise can help to reduce stress and anxiety and promote overall well-being. Exercise has also been shown to have positive effects on tinnitus symptoms in some individuals.

Get Enough Sleep: Adequate sleep is essential for overall health and can help in the reduction of stress and anxiety. Tinnitus symptoms can be exacerbated by fatigue, so it is important to prioritize sleep if you have tinnitus.

Consider Sound Therapy: White noise or sound masking can help to reduce the perception of tinnitus and promote relaxation. Listening to calming music or nature sounds can also help some people reduce stress-related tinnitus symptoms.

 

FAQs

What does anxiety tinnitus sound like?

Tinnitus caused by anxiety can occur in a number of ways and differ from person to person. Some people with anxiety-related tinnitus describe the sound in their ears as ringing, buzzing, humming, hissing, or whistling. Others have described the sound as pulsing or thumping. The sound can be continuous or intermittent, and its volume can range from low background noise to a loud, disruptive sound.

Does anxiety-induced tinnitus go away?

In some cases, anxiety-induced tinnitus may go away on its own if the underlying anxiety is addressed and managed effectively. However, the reduction of tinnitus symptoms varies from person to person, and tinnitus may persist in some people even after anxiety is treated.

Anxiety-related tinnitus can be effectively managed using a combination of strategies such as stress reduction techniques, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or medication.

Can stress and anxiety cause tinnitus?

Yes, stress and anxiety can be contributing factors to the development or exacerbation of tinnitus. Stress and anxiety can cause physical changes in the body, such as increased muscle tension or blood flow changes, which can affect the auditory system and contribute to tinnitus symptoms.

Stress and anxiety can also cause other behaviors that contribute to tinnitus, such as a lack of sleep, a poor diet, or excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption. All of these factors can lead to the development or exacerbation of tinnitus symptoms.

Summary

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants that have been studied for its potential therapeutic benefits. While research on CBD's effects on tinnitus and anxiety is limited, some studies suggest that CBD may have anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties that could benefit people suffering from tinnitus and anxiety.

CBD has been shown to modulate the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in anxiety and mood regulation. CBD can potentially reduce anxiety symptoms and improve overall mental health, it can also help to reduce the severity and frequency of tinnitus symptoms. However, more research is needed to fully understand its mechanisms and potential side effects.

Lastly, before taking CBD for tinnitus and anxiety, consult with a healthcare professional because it may interact with certain medications and may not be suitable for everyone.

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