Relationships between tinnitus and the prevalence of anxiety and depression

Laryngoscope. 2017 Feb;127(2):466-469. doi: 10.1002/lary.26107. Epub 2016 Jun 15.


Objectives/hypothesis: Quantify the relationships between tinnitus, and anxiety and depression among adults.

Study design: Cross-sectional analysis of a national health survey.

Methods: Adult respondents in the 2007 Integrated Health Interview Series tinnitus module were analyzed. Data for tinnitus symptoms and severity and reported anxiety and depression symptoms were extracted. Associations between tinnitus problems and anxiety, depression, lost workdays, days of alcohol consumption, and mean hours of sleep were assessed.

Results: Among 21.4 ± 0.69 million adult tinnitus sufferers, 26.1% reported problems with anxiety in the preceding 12 months, whereas only 9.2% of those without tinnitus reported an anxiety problem (P < .001). Similarly, 25.6% of respondents with tinnitus reported problems with depression, whereas only 9.1% of those without tinnitus reported depression symptoms (P < .001). Those reporting tinnitus symptoms as a "big" or "very big" problem were more likely to concurrently report anxiety (odds ratio [OR]: 5.7; 95% CI: 4.0-8.1; P < .001) and depression (OR: 4.8; 95% CI: 3.5-6.7; P < .001) symptoms. Tinnitus sufferers reported significantly fewer mean hours of sleep per night (7.00 vs. 7.21; P < .001) and greater mean days of work missed (6.94 vs. 3.79, P < .001) compared to those who did not report tinnitus. Mean days of alcohol consumption between the two groups were not significantly different.

Conclusions: Tinnitus symptoms are closely associated with anxiety, depression, shorter sleep duration, and greater workdays missed. These comorbidities and sequelae should be recognized and addressed to optimally manage patients with chronic and bothersome tinnitus.

Level of evidence: 4 Laryngoscope, 2016 127:466-469, 2017.

Keywords: Tinnitus; anxiety; depression; productivity; sleep; substance abuse; work.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sleep Deprivation / epidemiology
  • Sleep Deprivation / psychology
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Tinnitus / epidemiology*
  • Tinnitus / psychology*
  • United States