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March 15, 2012

Coping with tinnitus is about the right approach

A specific acceptance-based approach can help people to live with tinnitus, a doctoral thesis has shown. More than half of the participants experienced an improvement after adopting a new attitude towards their tinnitus.

Coping with tinnitus is about the right approach

According to a Swedish doctoral thesis in psychology, a treatment based on acceptance and mindfulness can help those living with tinnitus. The treatment aims to find a new attitude towards tinnitus so that the symptoms no longer take up as much space in the patients' lives.

The treatment method is called Acceptance and Commitment Treatment (ACT) and has been part of Vendela Zetterqvist's doctoral thesis in psychology at the Linköping University, Sweden. It has not previously been tested on tinnitus patients.

Zetterqvist's ACT method is based on an already existing therapy method called Cognitive Behavioural Treatment (CBT) which can reduce tinnitus symptoms by up to 45%. However, ACT takes a much broader approach.

The therapy

In addition to acceptance training the treatment also includes working with patients' awareness and seeing their thoughts as just thoughts.

“A thought does not necessarily correspond to the truth and we do not need to act on them,” Zetterqvist says. “Thoughts only become a problem when we act as if they were real.”

In a randomised and controlled long-term study, Zetterqvist proved that ACT is as effective as CBT. 54% experienced a significant improvement in terms of their symptoms.

“ACT has a great effect on tinnitus patients. It is justified to give a little more hope to those suffering from tinnitus,” Zetterqvist summarises.

Her doctoral thesis entitled “Tinnitus – an acceptance-based approach”.


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