Research: WEBER and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 80

Abstract

WEBER and colleagues, Clinic for Internal Medicine-Psychosomatics, Charite Campus Virchow Clinic, Medical School of the Humboldt University, Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353, Berlin, Germany, E: cora.weber@charite.de, examined the effects of a stress management/relaxation programme on psychological status and stress-related immune function in patients suffering from chronic tinnitus.

Background

Tinnitus can cause severe psychological stress to sufferers. Chronic stress as a consequence of chronic tinnitus, as with other chronic stressors, is likely to have long-term effects on physiological parameters of stress including stress-related immune responses.

Methodology

The study enrolled 45 tinnitus sufferers and 13 non-tinnitus subjects. The non-tinnitus participants (NTPs) and 26 of the tinnitus sufferers (TPs) entered a 10-week standardized relaxation programme, while the remaining 18 tinnitus sufferers were assigned to a waiting list (controls; TCs). The researchers evaluated subjects’ mood, perceived stress, global quality of life and tinnitus disturbance at baseline and after the 10-week treatment period, and they measured indicators of stress-related immune function changes (blood levels of tumour necrosis factor-alpha [TNF-alpha], interleukin-6 [IL-6] and IL-10) at baseline, during treatment and at the end of treatment.

Results

The TP group experienced significantly less perceived stress, anxious depression, anger and tinnitus disturbance after the 10-week relaxation programme and showed reduced levels of TNF-alpha compared with baseline measurements. Levels of IL-6 and IL-10 remained unchanged. No relevant changes in psychological parameters or stress-related immune system indicators occurred in the TC or NTP group.

Conclusion

Sufferers of chronic tinnitus gained improved stress management skills with the relaxation programme used in this study and experienced less psychological distress as a result. The study findings also suggest that TNF-alpha may be useful as an indicator of psychological stress.

References

Weber C et al. Impact of a relaxation training on psychometric and immunologic parameters in tinnitus sufferers. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 52 (1): 29-33. Jan 2002.

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