Psychological aspects of tinnitus and the application of cognitive-behavioral therapy

Clin Psychol Rev. 2002 Sep;22(7):977-90. doi: 10.1016/s0272-7358(01)00124-6.


This article presents an overview of tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears), its psychological effects, and the application of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for its treatment. Several studies have confirmed an association between psychological factors, such as anxiety and depression, and severe tinnitus and preliminary reports suggest that a proportion of tinnitus patients suffer from mental illness. Assessment strategies used in CBT for tinnitus include structured interviews, daily diary ratings, and validated self-report questionnaires. The treatment approach described in this article includes applied relaxation, imagery and distraction techniques, advice regarding environmental sounds, management of sleep, cognitive restructuring of thoughts and beliefs associated with tinnitus, and relapse prevention. The literature pertinent to CBT approaches to treating tinnitus is reviewed, and it is concluded that CBT shows promise as a treatment of tinnitus-related distress. Future research directions are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / etiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Tinnitus / psychology*