Tinnitus, defined by McFadden as “a conscious experience of sound that originates in the head of its owner, without an external acoustic source”, has a high prevalence and variable psychological impact. It results from maladaptation of the brain to a dysfunction resulting from peripheral acoustic injury. Tinnitus can therefore be helped by therapies which exercise self-control towards the perception of tinnitus. Mindfulness meditation essentially enables one to be less reactive towards a perceived threat which then reduces the vigilance and the stress associated with this vigilance. In this study the authors compared the outcome of mindfulness meditation with relaxation therapy. The allocation of therapy was randomised and blinded with two groups, one of 34 patients receiving mindfulness mediation and another of 27 patients receiving relaxation therapy. Patients were followed up for six months. The outcome measures used were Tinnitus Reaction Questionnaire, which is particularly helpful in determining the psychological distress, Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale, visual analogue scale and the Health State Thermometer. Patients in both groups registered improvement, but for all of these outcomes, except Health State Thermometer, results were statistically better with mindfulness meditation in comparison with relaxation therapy. Relapses with distress due to tinnitus are common and longer studies would be helpful.

A randomised controlled study of mindfulness meditation versus relaxation therapy in the management of tinnitus.
Arif M, Sadler M, Rajenderkumar D, James J, Tahir T.
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Madhup K Chaurasia

Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, UK.

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