My Experience with Tinnitus, Overprotection, and Antidepressants

Discussion in 'Support' started by EddieL., Mar 8, 2020.

    1. EddieL.

      EddieL. Member

      Location:
      Connecticut, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Let me start by saying that I have what I consider to be severe tinnitus. Intense high-pitched ringing in both ears, sometimes pulsatile in the left, 24/7. When I developed tinnitus last July as a result of a heavy toilet seat falling onto the bowl in a closet-sized bathroom, it wasn't this bad, but it quickly turned into a vicious cycle of fear, obsessive behavior, and overprotection.

      I went on leave from work, tried to eliminate even moderate sounds from my life, and eventually stopped going out of the house except for doctor's appointments. Trying to exhibit that much control over the uncontrollable was emotionally exhausting. Several people, including my psychiatrist and therapist, recommended antidepressants, but I was resistant. I thought I could handle it on my own, but that wasn't working. Anxiety and OCD took over, and my life was unmanageable. It took some time, but finally deciding to start Zoloft changed my life. This is not to say that my tinnitus is less severe, because it isn't. It's actually worse than when I started the medication, but I'm better. I stopped fixating on it, and stopped trying to control every little sound.

      Eliminating the hearing protection was more difficult. Whenever I stepped out of the house, I was wearing Peltor X5A's, which wasn't doing me any favors, and my hearing became hypersensitive. I was still fearful that I would cause more damage to my ears. However, in January, after waiting 4 months for my appointment, I finally saw an otologist (ear specialist), and I was able to ask him all the questions that were holding me back. Afterward, I was more hopeful for the future, but I knew that, for me, improvement would only come when I weaned myself off of the hearing protection.

      3 weeks ago, I started to face this task head-on, doing things and hearing sounds that I had avoided for months, like doing dishes, taking a shower, and getting a haircut, all without any hearing protection. I turned the TV up, and turned off the closed captioning. The more I did, the more confident I became, and the better I felt.

      I also downgraded to my Peltor X4A's when out shopping at department and grocery stores, then went down even further to my X1A's. I was making progress and was starting to feel alive again. 5 days ago, though, something happened which changed everything.

      This past Tuesday, I was accidentally exposed to a loud sound in my kitchen, probably the loudest sound I had heard in months. I'd estimate that it was between 95 and 100 decibels. At first, I was startled and my heart started racing. After that, though, I got angry. I thought, "Why am I so worried about hearing loud noises outside, when the worst sounds I've heard have been in my own house?!" In the past, I would have fixated on the event, sinking into a pit of regret. I would have started protecting my ears even more, which would make the next loud sound I heard even more distressing. I decided right then, "No more."

      About 30 minutes later, I left the house without hearing protection, and I haven't put them on since. That day, I was out for hours, at Walmart, Target, the pharmacy, and the supermarket, and I hadn't felt that good in 8 months. I couldn't hear my tinnitus, because I was living my life. I refused to let it call the shots anymore, and every day since then has been even better.

      Don't get me wrong, though, my tinnitus is not better. It's still relentless, but I simply don't care, and I don't know how long it would have taken for me to get to this point without the Zoloft, which, in turn, allowed me to stop overprotecting my ears. I'm not saying this will work for everyone, but it worked for me, and if I can give even just 1 person hope by telling my story, then it's worth it.

      Tinnitus is the hardest thing I've had to face in my life, but, finally, I'm starting to see the light.
       
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    2. Tweedleman
      Depressed

      Tweedleman Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      2001
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown/Noise
      Interesting, I'm at a similar crossroads. To take the AD or not. My life has been destroyed by hearing damage with tinnitus and sensitive hearing. I had to leave my job and am living at home. The anxiety and depression is overwhelming me 24/7. My Dr. prescribed 20mg Prozac and I've resisted taking it. The side effects are one thing but the potential for ototixicity is another. Perhaps it's a bit of a stretch but my worry is that the AD's potential ototoxicity could lead to the destruction of support cells which will be needed for future treatments like FX-322 to work their magic.
       
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    3. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      EddieL.

      EddieL. Member

      Location:
      Connecticut, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Fear of ototoxicity was definitely a factor in my hesitancy to taking antidepressants, or any new medication, for that matter. One of the symptoms of my OCD was constant researching on the internet, and I irrationally put too much emphasis on ototoxic medications. We all know that the list of drugs that can cause and worsen tinnitus is very long, but the list of truly ototoxic medications, those that actually damage the ear, is much shorter, and antidepressants aren't on it. I don't believe that any future treatments that involve the physical structure of the ear would be impacted by them, although, of course, I'm not an expert.
       
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    4. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I am sorry to hear that even though you had been protecting your ears, your tinnitus hasn't faded. Many/some people who protect their ears experience fading (and experience spikes when they experiment with not protecting their ears). I guess the lesson is that if one's tinnitus is relentlessly at the same level for more than 4-6 months, one thing one can try is to stop protecting one's ears. At that point either one's tinnitus becomes louder, or it doesn't and one feels better about life that now doesn't include protection.
       
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    5. Sash
      Doubtful

      Sash Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/01/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      cleaning out wax
      Thank you for that my tinnitus is so so loud but I am happy or in good mood or just preoccupied with something i don’t hear it though it is rare.

      Did you get Tinnitus in both ears after just one loud sound ?
       
    6. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      EddieL.

      EddieL. Member

      Location:
      Connecticut, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I did. For a while, it was noticeably worse in my right ear, but now it's pretty even.
       
    7. Jack V

      Jack V Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1/2020
      Why not take an antidepressant that's been shown to be helpful with tinnitus, like amitriptyline or nortriptyline? Kill two birds with one stone?
       
    8. aot
      Depressed

      aot Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016. Worsened 11/2019.
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably noise induced, worsened due to noise exposur + flu
      Whoa, that's my first time hearing this. Any threads on it?
       
    9. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Keep in mind that those drugs also cause tinnitus (or huge tinnitus spikes) for a small minority of people.
       
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    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      EddieL.

      EddieL. Member

      Location:
      Connecticut, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      It's definitely a risk-benefit situation. In my case, OCD and anxiety were making it impossible for me to ignore the tinnitus, thus making my life pretty unlivable. Zoloft appears to be what my brain needed to calm down, and to push tinnitus into the background, but I know others' experiences will be different.

      There's also a study that shows the benefit of Zoloft in treating tinnitus:

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16415703
       
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    11. Tweedleman
      Depressed

      Tweedleman Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      2001
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown/Noise
      I was taking Amitriptyline. Started at 10, 20, then 25mg. Mainly used it as a sleep aid for my job on the graveyard shift. I got absolutely no antidepressent effect from the low doseage, and since I had to quit my job due to this miserable condition, I saw no reason to keep taking it. It didn't seem to effect my noise-induced tinnitus, nothing really does, but it wasn't getting any better while taking it so I decided to eliminate it. I've had good luck with taking valerian root, melatonin, and magnesium before bed. My tinnitus is only moderate, so I'm lucky that's all I need to sleep. It's my mangled hearing loss and sound sensitivity that makes me want to be six feet under.
       
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    12. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      The risk might certainly be worth it. I took amitriptyline, it has helped me to sleep, and I ended up being ok.
       
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    13. aot
      Depressed

      aot Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016. Worsened 11/2019.
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably noise induced, worsened due to noise exposur + flu
      Did you get a spike from the kitchen accident? Did it resolve?
       
    14. Forever hopeful
      Depressed

      Forever hopeful Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      2015 resolved, 4/20 L ear, increase 2/21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      2015,noise,2020-21 SNHL
      Hi Eddie,

      Great story. I am so glad to hear that you have regained your life. When I first got T after an AC/DC concert, I was a wreck. I carried noise machines to work, slept on my back with the AC on to mask the noise ( I am a side sleeper), I was hypervigalent about noise. I thought I would never get my life back. I was so depressed and anxious. It was awful and consumed my life. I refused to go to movies, plays, concerts , all the things I enjoyed. I cried, I was exhausted, I still went to work and I had kids I had to care for and everything suffered. One of my worst days was when my broke down and was crying in front of one of my brand new staff because of T.

      I had a very supportive ENT , who also had T. I had my hearing tested. It was, as the ENT said, “perfect” . Go figure. My dad has occupational hearing loss. No T. Again, go figure. I had custom ear plugs made. Best investment ever. Then I went to see an audiologist who specialized in T. She said wear your ear plugs to anywhere you have to yell to be heard. Otherwise, do not or you will make your ears too sensitive and cause H, which I fortunately do not have. Only dishes clanking. That is the only thing that sends shrills down my back. She said it was ok to use headphones but no more than 50% volume and noise canceling is preferable so you don’t push it up to a higher volume to cover outside noise. I too went back n Zoloft. My ENT said it was the one SSRI least likely to be associated with T. I never had a spike. Only side effect was that I gained 60 lbs on it.

      I started to live my life again. I go to plays, movies and even saw Elton John in concert. Wore the ear plugs each time. No problems at all. No spikes, nothing. I no longer use the sound pillows, noise machines etc.

      Then the night before last, I was sitting in a quiet room with my husband taking. Normally, not a problem. Soundly even hear my low grade T.
       
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    15. Forever hopeful
      Depressed

      Forever hopeful Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      2015 resolved, 4/20 L ear, increase 2/21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      2015,noise,2020-21 SNHL
      Sorry post problem. Posted be fore bad finished. Anyway, having a spike now, may be relayed to fluid in my ears. But I know I will manage it.

      Stay strong and wishing you the best.
       
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    16. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      EddieL.

      EddieL. Member

      Location:
      Connecticut, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Some days are better than others, but my ears ring 24/7, so spikes aren't an issue for me. Since I'm now living my life without hearing protection, if I experience an increase in the ringing, I can't attribute it to one event. For instance, my tinnitus is intense today. Yesterday, I went out grocery shopping, so I was exposed to many moderately loud sounds. Any of them could have contributed to today's increase, or it could be something else entirely. What I do know is that the ringing will eventually get better, so I don't worry about what made it worse.
       
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    17. twa
      Busy

      twa Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      2017- mild /Sept. 2020-moderate
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      meds/acoustic trauma
      Do you think the Zoloft caused the tinnitus to increase?
       
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    18. DaveFromChicago

      DaveFromChicago Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Headcold/Flu
      Acute is entirely correct about Zoloft.

      My psychiatrist put me on it, and after only three days I was hyperventilating with bizarre paranoia and near-hallucinations.

      Also, I actually found a near-perfect external demonstration of the overwhelming, uncontrollable dread I feel from a developing spike (and from this condition generally).

      Check out on YouTube "Man Records Tornado That Destroys His Home / Kills Wife 4/9/15." It is only just over three minutes.

      When people ask me "Why are you so stressed by this?", I play this video for them and reply, "Imagine that this tornado is inside your consciousness."
       
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    19. weab00
      Gloomy

      weab00 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      nunya
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      some good mf music
      Is it true that ADs deplete support cells? The risk of ototoxicity is too much for my tinnitus and severe pain hyperacusis. Also if it does deplete support cells, FX-322 wouldn't work.
       
    20. twa
      Busy

      twa Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      2017- mild /Sept. 2020-moderate
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      meds/acoustic trauma
      The tri-cyclic antidepressants or SSRIs in general?
       
    21. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      EddieL.

      EddieL. Member

      Location:
      Connecticut, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Honestly, I have no idea what, if any, direct effect Zoloft had on the level of my tinnitus. As most of us know, it's very difficult to figure out what exactly makes our tinnitus worse from day to day. Is it the sounds themselves, is it some medication we're taking or something we're eating, is it TMJ, is it ETD, is it anxiety? I used to obsess over these questions, struggling to find a way to control my tinnitus.

      Zoloft helped me accept the fact that it's impossible to control something that, by its nature, can change seemingly without any reason. It's altered my perception of the sound in my head, to where, on many days, it's just background noise, instead of being constantly front-and-center. It's disappointing to see someone post that "Zoloft is poison," since I believe it stopped my downward spiral, and helped me to reclaim my life. Obviously, no antidepressant has the same affect on every person, so I see a blanket statement like that as pointless and irresponsible. Like I said, this is what worked for ME, and I'm not recommending it to everyone, but, if tinnitus has caused anxiety and obsessive behavior that's making your life unlivable, then MAYBE an antidepressant can help, as it did me.
       
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    22. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      When I made that post, I had studies like the ones below in mind:
      https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1990-20517-001
      https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269881107082126

      But there's also:
      https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269881109106929?journalCode=jopa

      It is the case that the things that can help tinnitus patients:
      https://www.researchgate.net/profil...e_Tinnitus/links/5502051c0cf24cee39fb28c8.pdf

      https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S037859550600219X

      https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0079612307660245

      https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22541838/

      can also cause tinnitus spikes for a small subset of the sufferers.
       
    23. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      EddieL.

      EddieL. Member

      Location:
      Connecticut, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
    24. Ed209

      Ed209 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2015
      Thanks for shining a light on this side of over-protection. Many have gone through the same hell as you have when it comes to protecting too much, but rarely, if ever, is it discussed with much consideration on here.
       
    25. serendipity1996
      No Mood

      serendipity1996 Member Podcast Patron Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      2011 - T, 2016- H, relapsed 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise-induced
      I don't think they do - if it's any consolation I have been on antidepressants for 4 years with no issues whatsoever. I don't think ADs are generally all that ototoxic.
       
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    26. Moss

      Moss Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Blasting speakers, medical trauma
      Please be aware that many antidepressants can lower dopamine levels, which in turn can increase pain sensitivity. If you suspect Restless Legs Syndrome (Willis-Ekbom Disease), which is quite common, then you should not take the ones that are contraindicated. They could interfere with the sleep, for one thing.
       
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    27. Jrblovsky

      Jrblovsky Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      Christmas 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      NOISE/Menieres Who knows
      I took Prozac 80mg for nearly 10 years and never had my ears ring. I also have taken Luvox, Paxil, and Zoloft. Never experienced any tinnitus with these. Same with Risperdal.
       
    28. serendipity1996
      No Mood

      serendipity1996 Member Podcast Patron Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      2011 - T, 2016- H, relapsed 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise-induced
      @Michael Leigh care to explain your 'creative' thoughts on my post? A post from more than 3 months ago...
       
    29. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      EddieL.

      EddieL. Member

      Location:
      Connecticut, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      I'm just here to give an update on my situation, 15 months after my original post.

      Ever since I stopped protecting my ears, my life has continued to get better. No earplugs and no earmuffs in over a year. I'll still push on my tragi to cover my ear canal every so often when I encounter a worrisome sound, but that's it.

      Don't get me wrong, I still have bad days, but I never let the level of my tinnitus interfere with my activities for the day, and, for me, no spike has been permanent. For the most part, I've habituated to my lower levels of tinnitus, so that I only notice it when it's really bad. Fortunately, those days have become fewer and fewer.

      Also, after 18 months of use, I've tapered myself off of Zoloft. Not because of any effect on my tinnitus, but because I don't need it anymore. It served a purpose when I was in a very dark place, but that time is over. Honestly, I think I'm getting better results with the 5000 IU's of Vitamin D 3 that I take every day than I did with the Zoloft.

      Now that we're almost into summer, I like to spend as much time as I can outdoors, so I walk 5 miles a day, when weather permits. I'm also looking forward to trips into NYC, for the first time in 2 years. I haven't decided yet if I'll use any hearing protection there, since it's considerably louder than my day-to-day life, but I'll figure it out.

      I'd like also to implore everyone to educate themselves. Don't just go by what people say on here, and, for that matter, don't just blindly follow the advice of doctors, either. Do your own research, so that you can make informed decisions. Knowledge is empowering, and things can get better.

      I hope this post will bring someone comfort. I see a lot of terrified people on this site, and I can tell you, from personal experience, that it's not worth it to buy into all of that fear. Of course, there are things that still worry me, and I take precautions when I feel it's necessary, but I've learned how to push through, and I'm a stronger person because of it.

      Stay safe, and be well.
       
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    30. cruise
      Relaxed

      cruise Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      March 2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      @EddieL., great news! Happy to hear that you are doing better and that the fear is no longer there!
       
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