With no real cure for tinnitus, those who experience this condition are looking for the next best thing. Some turn to acupuncture or essential oils, but what about hypnosis? Does this actually provide any real tinnitus relief?
Many tinnitus sufferers see positive relief of their symptoms through tinnitus treatments such as sound therapy, stress management and relaxation techniques. All three treatments deal heavily with the brain, either providing a distraction from the tinnitus sounds or calming the brain with reduced stress.
It may then not be a huge leap for someone to consider hypnosis, or hypnotherapy for tinnitus, which has a focus on the brain and suggestive thought.
While the idea of using hypnosis has been talked about for decades in relation to tinnitus, very few studies, research and clinical trials have been completed in this area. While there have been some positive studies regarding hypnotherapy, those who experience tinnitus shouldn’t get too excited. Much more research is needed in this field before a definite link can be made.
What is hypnosis (or hypnotherapy)?
Most people have an idea of what hypnosis is from TV and movies, but why use this in the medical field?
Hypnotherapy uses the technique of hypnosis to change habits. While there isn’t enough research, hypnotherapy is commonly used for situations like individuals who want to quit smoking. Hypnosis may give these individuals the final push to stop smoking and perhaps change their opinion about wanting to smoke.
While there are different techniques used in hypnotherapy, it typically follows a similar format:
You will enter a deep, relaxed state
While deeply relaxed, your hypnotherapist may suggest that you stop a habit (ex. smoking)
Your hypnotherapist will slowly bring you back to an alert state
While some people do find hypnosis beneficial, it only works if you want to be hypnotised. If you don’t agree with the practice, or don’t want to be hypnotised, it won’t work.
How hypnotherapy work for tinnitus?
Because hypnotherapy is a modified state of consciousness, the mind may be more open to positive suggestion. This could potentially work for tinnitus patients.
When the unconscious mind is more present, your hypnotherapy may suggest things like for you to ignore the ringing in the ears sensation, or suggest that you shouldn’t focus on or worry about tinnitus. Hypnosis can also help relax the individual, and we know that stress can make tinnitus more noticeable. Like some research suggests, self-hypnosis could be used to help control tinnitus intensity and shows promise as a treatment option.
Hypnosis may also be able to train the mind to hear tinnitus more like everyday background noise, making it less noticeable.
Hypnosis for tinnitus research
One study looked at the effectiveness of Ericksonian hypnosis therapy on tinnitus patients.
The sessions were organized as follows:
First session: The researchers evaluated the impact of tinnitus on the quality of life for the patients and discussed what hypnosis therapy is.
Following sessions: Patients were focused on relaxation and mental imaging on all the senses except hearing.
Finally: Patients focused on hearing by learning how to control sound intensity and thus tinnitus intensity while also learning how to use self-hypnosis.
After 5-10 sessions, the 35 patients in the study were capable of self-hypnosis with the focus on reducing their tinnitus symptoms. The scoring used on their tinnitus levels also improved significantly.
The results showed that Ericksonian hypnosis therapy, including self-hypnosis, shows a lot of potential for tinnitus treatment. However, it’s clear that a research study of only 35 tinnitus patients is not large enough to draw full conclusions.
Another study also looked into the effectiveness of self-hypnosis for tinnitus relief. The study showed that 73% of self-hypnosis individuals reported “disappearance of tinnitus during treatment sessions.” In addition, the short term and long term tinnitus symptoms showed significant improvement.
While these two research studies show some positive impacts of hypnotherapy for tinnitus symptoms, much more research is needed. Because tinnitus has so many different causes, it would be misleading to believe that hypnosis would work on all cases of tinnitus.
Problems with hypnosis for tinnitus
The first main issue with hypnosis or hypnotherapy for tinnitus is that there isn’t enough research to show that it is a viable treatment option. While the studies that have been published show promise, they do not conclusively link hypnosis and reduced tinnitus symptoms together.
Another issue with this treatment option is that the individual would need to find a specialist in this field. There may not be a qualified hypnotherapist in your area. This type of treatment would also require numerous sessions and visits.
Cost is also a big issue with this type of tinnitus treatment, as sessions can be expensive. In addition, most insurance plans do not cover hypnosis.
Tinnitus could be a side effect of a different medical problem, like compacted ear wax, a jaw disorder, neck injury or hearing loss. Hypnosis would not solve these medical issues. Once the underlying problem is fixed medically, then tinnitus symptoms should improve. If tinnitus sufferers are interested in pursuing hypnotherapy, it’s vital they first understand the cause of their tinnitus. They will not experience positive outcomes through hypnosis if the tinnitus is a side effect of something else.
Has hypnotherapy helped others?
As with all tinnitus treatment options, people have gone online to see if others have seen relief.
One tinnitus sufferer wrote that her hypnotherapist put her “under and took me into a ‘control room’. We found the control knob for tinnitus volume and he had me turn it down. After bringing me out, the noise seemed to be coming faintly from across the road, not from behind my head. The noise in my left ear had gone completely. I still have tinnitus noise in my right ear.”
Another person on the forum suggested that hypnotherapy may be like a placebo effect, rather than effective treatment. So while the activity doesn’t actually help tinnitus, the individual believes enough that it has helped and sees results.
Others had written that they didn’t know anyone who has been “cured” by hypnotherapy for tinnitus.
In the end, more research is needed. If you have spare time, extra money and a licensed hypnotherapist nearby, it might be worth trying. Otherwise, wait until more clinical trials have been completed in this field for tinnitus relief.
Quiet Mind is a blog dedicated to turning a critical eye to tinnitus treatments and supplements. So many don’t work and are overhyped, we’re here to shed some light on some of the scams and successful products that claim to stop the ringing.