Weise and colleagues (2013) report that tinnitus impacts approximately 10 to 15 percent of the adult population. Of note, tinnitus seriously impacts quality of life and leads to frequent utilization of medical services for approximately 0.5 to 3 percent (up to one-fifth of those who experience tinnitus) of the adult population. For people who describe their tinnitus as serious, catastrophic, or distressing, they also (often) experience associated symptoms including sleep disturbance, concentration issues, auditory perceptual problems, and depressive symptoms.
Weise et al report that in highly distressed tinnitus patients, psychiatric disorders are found including generalized anxiety, major depression and/or phobic disorders, and a causal relationship is unclear – despite a significant association between tinnitus severity and psychiatric disorders.
The authors note that "catastrophizing or catastrophic thinking is defined as a tendency to overstate the impact of a condition and to expect major negative consequences…." With regard to tinnitus, catastrophic thinking may include the thought that the tinnitus will get louder, that hearing loss will increase, that a stroke may occur etc., and catastrophizing may lead to reduced acceptance and habituation of tinnitus. Indeed, catastrophic thinking may facilitate the maintenance of chronic tinnitus (Cima et al, 2011).
Weise and colleagues report tinnitus catastrophizing is complex and is strongly associated with the perceived (subjective) loudness of the tinnitus, behavioral coping attempts (which includes "active use of positive strategies" and the patient’s belief in self-efficacy) as well as depressive symptoms, distress and increased use of medical services.
For More Information, References and Recommendations
Baigi A, Oden A, Almlid-Larsen V, Barrenas ML, Holgers KM.(2011) Tinnitus in the General Population With a Focus on Noise and Stress—A Public Health Study. Ear & Hearing 32(6):787–789.
Beck DL. (2011) Hearing Aid Amplification and Tinnitus:2011. Hearing Journal 64(6):12-14.
Cima, R., Crombez, G., Vlacyen, JW. (2011): Catastrophizing and Fear of Tinnitus Predict Qualtiy of Life in Patients With Chronic Tinnitus. Ear & Hearing 32:634-641.
Kochkin S, Tyler R, Born J. (2011) MarkeTrak VIII: The Prevalence of Tinnitus in the United States and the Self-Reported Efficacy of Various Treatments. Hearing Review 18(12):10–26.
Newman CW, Sandridge SA. (2012) A Comparison of Benefit and Economic Value Between Two Sound Therapy Tinnitus Management Options. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 23:126–138.
Parazzini M, Del Bo L, Jastreboff M, Tognola G, Ravazzani P. (2011) Open Ear Hearing Aids In Tinnitus Therapy - An Efficacy Comparison with Sound Generators. International Journal of Audiology 50:548-553.
Searchfield GD, Kaur M, Martin WH. (2010) Hearing Aids As An Adjunct to Counseling—Tinnitus Patients Who Choose Amplification Do Better Than Those That Don't. International Journal of Audiology 49(8):574-579.
Tyler RS. (2012) Patient Preferences and Willingness to Pay for Tinnitus Treatment. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 23:115–125.
Tyler RS, Haskell GB, Gogel SA, Gehringer AK. (2008) Establishing a Tinnitus Clinic in Your Practice. American Journal of Audiology 17(1):25–3
Tyler RS, Noble, W, Coelho CB, Ji H. (2012) Tinnitus Retraining Therapy – Mixing Point and Total Masking are Equally Effective. Ear & Hearing 33(5):588-594.
Weise, C., Hesser, H., Andersson, G., Nyenhuis, N., Zastrutzki, S., Kroner-Herwig, B. & Jager, B. (2013): The Role of Catastrophizing in Recent Onset Tinnitus – Its Nature and Association With Tinnitus Distress and Medical Utilization. International Journal of Audiology 52:177-188.