Tinnitus isn’t dangerous, but it can be distressing, and that’s where cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) comes in.
CBT is a framework of therapy that works to restructure your thought processes. While it’s primarily used in association with mental health conditions, these aren’t the only conditions that can cause psychological distress.
Because of how intrusive tinnitus can be and how some cases can’t be cured, it’s often a significant source of negative thoughts and emotions.
CBT doesn’t eliminate what you’re hearing or how intensely you’re hearing it, but it may help you change how you respond to tinnitus in everyday life.
The psychological distress around tinnitus is what clinically defines its severity. How you react to this condition emotionally and how well you cope determines whether you view tinnitus as insignificant or as a burden.
CBT is used to modify unhelpful thought and behaviour patterns related to this condition. Its goals are to teach:
Careful thinking (cognitive restructuring):
Viewing tinnitus factually and avoiding worse-case-scenario thoughts.
Accepting unwanted realities like tinnitus and separating them from emotions.
Using background sound to help reduce the perception of tinnitus.
Taking steps to live life as you would without tinnitus.
By focusing on these things, CBT shifts your tinnitus response from stressful to neutral. This nonreactive state is known as habituation — when you’re accustomed to tinnitus and barely notice it.
In other words, if you can train yourself to view tinnitus as unimportant, your emotions and behaviours should mirror that mindset.
Cognitive behavioural therapy for tinnitus is a therapeutic model intended to improve quality of life through habituation, cognitive restructuring, and the development of coping skills.
Although research is limited on treatment for tinnitus, CBT is widely accepted as a viable treatment option.