Many patients experience a great deal of anxiety, tension, and stress as a result of their tinnitus. Techniques that are designed to reduce those side effects may provide an indirect benefit for some patients. Over the last few years, researchers have started to investigate the use of relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or more formal programs likes Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for the treatment of a variety of health-related problems. Of these techniques, MBSR has received considerable attention and investigation.
MBSR is an eight-week intensive training in mindfulness meditation that was pioneered by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. The program is designed to assist people with pain and a range of conditions. It uses a combination of mindfulness meditation, body awareness, and yoga to help people become more mindful. A number of studies have evaluated the effectiveness of MBSR treatment for individuals with a variety of chronic diseases including: chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis. Data from these studies revealed that MBSR treatment helped patients better cope with their symptoms, improved their overall well-being and quality of life, and enhanced their treatment outcomes.
These findings have led to recent investigations into the use of mindfulness-based techniques for the management of tinnitus. Two studies evaluating the effectiveness of mindfulness training concluded that the use of meditation might constitute a useful addition for tinnitus treatment interventions that target the psychological consequences of tinnitus. A recent pilot study evaluated an MBSR-based program that was designed specifically for patients suffering from chronic tinnitus, called Mindfulness Based Tinnitus Stress Reduction (MBTSR). The study demonstrated preliminary evidence that the eight-week program may be an effective intervention for treating chronic tinnitus and its comorbid symptoms, and may help reduce depression and phobic anxiety while improving social functioning and overall mental health. The MBTSR program is available in an online format.
In addition, Eastside Audiology & Hearing Services has relationships with local counselors who provide this type of treatment and who have worked with tinnitus patients in the past. Please contact us for further information.