Relieve tinnitus with mindfulness therapy
The constant buzzing, humming, ringing or clicking sound you hear in your ears is a condition called tinnitus. This can be extremely frustrating and can cause stress and anxiety, depression, tension and irritability, as well as problems with sleep and concentration.
Tinnitus is described as a sensation or awareness of sound that is not caused by an external source, but can occur due to a fault in the auditory system. It affects 17 to 20 per cent of Australians. So far, relaxation-based therapies are used to help alleviate the symptoms of this condition, but new research from the University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) and the University of Bath found that a mindfulness-based approach shows better results.
MBCT encourages people not to suppress their experiences, so they can learn to cultivate a more helpful way of tackling tinnitus by "allowing" and "accepting" the condition, rather than fighting it or pushing it away.
For this study, 182 adults with chronic and distressing tinnitus completed an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program. Measures of tinnitus-related distress, psychological distress, acceptance of this condition and mindfulness were taken before the therapy, after the intervention and at a six-week follow-up.
The researchers found significant improvements on all outcome measures associated with MBCT. After the eight weeks of MBCT, improvements in tinnitus-related distress were seen in 50 per cent of the patients as well as improvements in psychological distress in 41.2 per cent of patients.
These results were similar to a trial of 75 patients at UCLH’s Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, where patients received either MBCT or relaxation therapy. In this trial, both treatments resulted in a reduction in the severity of this disorder, as well as reduced psychological distress, anxiety and depression in patients. However, the MBCT treatment led to significantly greater reductions in severity than the relaxation treatment, and the improvement lasted longer.
Relaxation therapy helps patients reduce stress by giving them specific skills to reduce stress arousal levels. However, MBCT, which is taught by highly trained clinical psychologists, instills patients to pay purposeful attention to present experiences. MBCT encourages people not to suppress their experiences, so they can learn to cultivate a more helpful way of tackling tinnitus by “allowing” and “accepting” the condition, rather than fighting it or pushing it away.
The aim of mindfulness in this context is not to change the nature or sound of the tinnitus. But practising a mindfulness-based therapy helps tinnitus feel less invasive, and over time it can become less of a problem for patients.
Source: Ear and Hearing
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