Do antidepressants help you cope with... - British Tinnitus ...

British Tinnitus Association

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Do antidepressants help you cope with tinnitus?


Hi, I really am beside myself now with tinnitus, I am so stressed and depressed. Does anyone find antidepressants work. I know they don’t improve the tinnitus but it is my well being I need sorting first in hopes I can cope with the tinnitus. Thank you

19 Replies

Hello CalleLaurel and I’m sorry this is stressing you so much.

Other posters in the past have said they are using pills to keep the stress under control.

Personally, I use the breathing method: Controlled breathing, especially in the open air when you can hear birds and the wind. This is a long-term solution and does take a lot of practice.

You might think that breathing is so natural that no practice is needed but for this to be effective you do have to work at it.

Controlled breathing for, say, just two minutes (take a timer with you so that you don’t keep checking) and try this a few times a day. As you get better at it, do it for longer. When intrusive thoughts come into your head, gently send them away and tell them they can come back later if they want. Just concentrate on the breathing.

I wish you well.p


Hello - welcome to the BTA Forums, Laurel.

As you've said, anti-depressants are prescribed to manage low mood and anxiety, stress and the emotional impact of tinnitus rather than to impact the sound itself.

If your tinnitus is closely tied to your mood and mental well being, it's wholly possible that treating this problem will make a difference by helping you to see your tinnitus in a different way - if you're able to not feel as anxious about it, the odds are good that you will start to consciously notice it less or feel that it is intrusive.

CalleLaurel in reply to BTAPat

Thank you, I have been prescribed Citalopram as the tinnitus team say they have less than 1% effect on tinnitus sufferers. I start them tomorrow. Has anyone else found they help with the anxiety/stress that comes with tinnitus.

TishL in reply to CalleLaurel

Hi CalleLaurel.

Please let me know how you get on with anti-depressants and if it helps you cope better with tinnitus. I'm similar to you, having T for about a year. I suffer with anxiety and stress also. Take care.

CalleLaurel in reply to TishL

I will keep in touch, apparently it takes at least a couple of weeks to begin to work & I am on a low dose of 10mgs.

TishL in reply to CalleLaurel

Hi ya. How are you getting on with medication etc? Hope you are ok.x

CalleLaurel in reply to TishL

Hiya, thank you for asking, I am getting better at coming to terms with it although now I have an odd good day with no tinnitus at all. I don’t understand how it can be like that one day but noisy the rest. The Citalopram do work by the way & have managed to stay on the lowest dose so far. I have hearing devices with white noise now but unfortunately not good for me, I think the hyperacusis is the problem to deal with first.

Hi CalleLaurel. How long have you been experiencing tinnitus (the big T)?

Sorry this reply is a bit short, but the length of time you've been in this particular club makes a huge difference about where you're at in terms of dealing with T.

CalleLaurel in reply to bridgeit

Hi, I have had this since last October, I don’t know why it came on but I have been told possible stress over the last few years may have been a factor. I managed to cope for a while but gradually it has taken over my life. I do the deep breathing throughout the day & have tried several things to no avail. I am hoping to have hearing aids soon with pink noise, my hearing is actually pretty good. As to where I am at I can only say I am in a really bad place at the moment.

bridgeit in reply to CalleLaurel

Hi CalleLaurel,

I really do understand. It's very hard when people, especially medics, say things like "stress could be a factor" when they cannot tell you why your T has started. Then, with the next breath, they say "there's nothing we can do about your T, you must learn to live with it. Do you want some tablets to help?" Meanwhile, you are in absolute torment.

When we've lived for decades with no weird noises in our head and then T starts for no diagnosed reason, it's really hard to accept and deal with. I think most T sufferers have been exactly where you are today.

Anti-depressants can help manage anxiety or low mood, but they won't make the noise go away. I was offered anti-depressants immediately when my GP first diagnosed T, even before I was referred to the neurologist and then onto ENT. I think doctors know that T is deeply upsetting and are comfortable dealing with upset. They cannot fix T, so some trivialize or dismiss it. That makes sufferers emotional, which makes the T worse. I can speak with some feeling about that particular approach.

It's sounds trite to say this, but T is manageable once we've habituated to it. Part of habituation is acceptance, which is not the same as sad resignation or taking anti-depressants to dull emotions. Acceptance begins with the dawning realization that for some parts of the day from time to time, even for just a couple of minutes to begin with, we didn't notice the T. Once that process starts, it's possible to train the brain to lengthen those time frames and to better manage the periods when the T is noticeable, perhaps even overwhelming. That's where the breathing techniques and meditation can help. Each of us probably has different strategies, but realizing that there are times when the noise is actually ignored by our brain is critical to recovery from the loss of our previously quiet head.

When I realized that I was never again going to have peace and quiet inside my head, I took steps to avoid situations of absolute environmental silence around me. I had background music, or the TV, or headphones (good quality earbuds), or conversation, or outdoor noises around me all of the time. Interestingly, there are now times when I choose not to have any background noise and no longer mind hearing the T, which seems very odd considering the distress it's caused me in the past.

At night when I want to sleep I listen to Jeffrey Thompson's sleep system which helps me nod off soundly, listening to soothing noise. This strategy works for me.

On Amazon at:

Mindfulness, and breathing techniques (as described by Happyrosie) really can help too. Take a look at Kim Eng's DVD on 'Resist Nothing' when you're in the mood. It's guided meditation all about acceptance. Just lie back and listen to her voice and her message.

On Amazon at:

Fellow T sufferers told me two years ago that I'd get used to T. I thought they just didn't understand my particular situation and could not possibly know how much I was going through.

I am delighted to report that they were right. There is a way through and, just like me and many others on this forum, I think you can find your way through too at your own pace, whether it involves prescribed medication or not. Whatever works for you is right for you, and what's right for you may well change over time.

I still have times when the noise gets a bit much, but now I know it will pass and that gives me reassurance.

I hope you soon find a few moments of nonintrusive tinnitus each day, from which you can build something both manageable and positive.

Happyrosie in reply to bridgeit

Bridgeit, this post is so helpful to everyone learning to cope with T.

I was lucky in that mine started when I was very young and I assumed that everyone had these noises, so I wasn’t alone. I thought. I imagined it was all part of life. it wasn’t until I was in my late fifties, fifteen years ago, that the sounds became more noticeable.

I just regard it as part of life’s rich pattern.

Thank you again.

veep64 in reply to CalleLaurel

Hello. My tinnitus was due to an extremely stressful time in my life, of this I am sure. Even now, if I get stressed, my tinnitus volume will increase. I have never taken an antidepressant, so I am of no help, unfortunately. I do, however, use klonopin if my tinnitus gets out of control and my anxiety peaks. I have never used the klonopin on a daily basis due to its reputation of being addictive and tolerance issues.

I have a good relationship with my doctor and always consult with him, he advises that the klonopin be used only when needed. I also use meditation and relaxation techniques during the most difficult times.

I wish I could say yes but that’s just me meds work for some people and not others like mindfulness meditation it doesn’t work for also on a anti psychotic medication that i was told would help with my sleep worked for a week now back to voice inside my head head and the T waking me at 3 in the morning.keep posting on hear there are people in the same boat one might just have something that will help you.sorry can’t help you any more.

Good luck and keeep safe


Hi CalleLaurel,

I was where you are three months ago. My T came on suddenly after Labyrinthitis and I Literally thought my life was over! My GP prescribed Sleeping pills and I originally started an antidepressant sertraline, but that was quickly changed to the antidepressant Mirtazapine.

I have never taken antidepressants before my T & was hesitant to begin with, however months down the line the mirtazapine has helped my anxiety & I only take half a pill now ( the full dose was making me teasy, tired & crappy the following day ) X I don’t need sleeping pills either!

Many people will tell your there own stories & also guide you with their own experiences, but only take from that what you need too, there is no right or wrong action.

If you are genuinely considering antidepressants to help you, then perhaps you should speak with your GP about starting. It will take a few weeks to adjust, but in a few weeks from now when you are in a more balanced place emotionally & mentally, then you will be better able to manage your tinnitus. There is no right or wrong way to live with this & you will naturally find your own way. Medication or no.

I think time is the best healer and right now, that may not be what you want to hear, but in time YOU WILL feel better and every area of your life will improve x My T has changed lots and it’s definitely still there, but I can go a full day without noticing it, when you reach this point you realise that life can & will go on. I do use a fan & relaxing river & birdsong at night to help me drop off to sleep at night.

I wish you luck & I am sending you lots of virtual hugs, you sound like you need it xXx

FallenAngel, this is really helpful to sufferers. Thank you.

Some anti-depressants can help you sleep so maybe worth considering. As bridgeit has covered above, it might not feel like it now but the passage of time will help.

Hello Calle Layrel

Sorry to hear about your issues. Yes we all understand on here?

Firstly - I think we will all say it well get better in time. I have found mindfullness and background noise "apps" work best. I am 7 months into T and it is really quite bad. I am now on Amytriptaline also, it does just seem to take the edge of the experiance, for me at least yes.

Good luck with your enquiries and mission

HinCalleLaurel ... sorry to hear you are struggling . I’ve had severe tinnitus for 4 years and lots pain due to 8 operations on my ear, I would not be as well as I am if I didn’t have anti depressants . I do take a few as I’ve had a very rough time so they have really helped me, I’ve tried acupuncture, hypnotise , reiki ...... anything to help but nothing helps. I also try to stay as calm as possible and stay away from alcohol. Hope this helps ...Jenny

Thank you to everyone for their input, I am taking just 10mgs of Citalopram just to help me through at the moment, I know I have to learn to live with it which is proving to be very hard at the moment. There are so many things that can trigger it off. I am trying lots of things like breathing etc, yoga is not for me as I have such a wandering mind. I have to believe there is a way forward where I will get used to it as many have said. I also have Hyperacusis ( I think that is how it is spelt). Lucky me.

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