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.
       
      • Hug Hug x 3
      • Optimistic Optimistic x 1
    2. Tweedleman
      Depressed

      Tweedleman Member Benefactor

      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.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
      • Hug Hug x 1
    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.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    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.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    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
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Something Wicked This Way Comes
      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
      Wishful

      aot Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016. Worsened 11/2019.
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably sound induced, worsened due to noise expouse + 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.
       
      • Agree Agree x 2
    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
       
      • Informative Informative x 1
    11. Tweedleman
      Depressed

      Tweedleman Member Benefactor

      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.
       
    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.
       
    13. aot
      Wishful

      aot Member Benefactor

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

      Forever hopeful Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      August 2015
      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.
       
      • Winner Winner x 1
    15. Forever hopeful

      Forever hopeful Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      August 2015
      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.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    16. acute
      Depressed

      acute Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music, stress and meds.
      Zoloft is poison.
       
    17. 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.
       
      • Hug Hug x 1

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