Tinnitus Annoyance in Normal-Hearing Individuals: Correlation With Depression and Anxiety

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Abstract

Objective:

To assess and correlate tinnitus annoyance in normal-hearing patients with auditory brainstem response and with anxiety/depression.

Methods:

A sample of 84 individuals with tinnitus and normal hearing levels (pure-tone thresholds ≤25 dB HL) was compared to a matched control group of 47 normal-hearing individuals without tinnitus. All participants underwent auditory brainstem response testing. Tinnitus annoyance was assessed using the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory and depression and anxiety using the Beck Depression Inventory and Beck Anxiety Inventory, respectively. We compared auditory brainstem response and anxiety/depression symptoms between groups. In the study group, we correlated the degree of tinnitus annoyance with normal/abnormal auditory brainstem response and presence/level of anxiety/depression symptoms.

Results:

All controls had normal auditory brainstem response; 30 patients with tinnitus had abnormal results. Thirty-five patients with tinnitus had depression and 41 anxiety, while only 2 controls had depression and none had anxiety, with a significant between-group difference (P < .001). Normal/abnormal auditory brainstem response showed no association with tinnitus annoyance, anxiety, or depression. A higher degree of tinnitus annoyance was associated with severity of depression and anxiety.

Conclusions:

Increased tinnitus annoyance was positively correlated with greater severity of anxiety and depression in normal-hearing patients but was unrelated to normal/abnormal auditory brainstem response.

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