Nigerian Journal of Medicine

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Tinnitus and the prevalence of co-morbid psychological stress

A A Adoga, A S Adoga, J T Obindo


Background: Tinnitus is a symptom of unknown pathophysiology with few therapeutic
measures and may present with co-morbid psychological stresses necessitating
psychiatric treatment. This study aims at determining the prevalence of depression
and anxiety in tinnitus sufferers in our environment.

Method: This is a one year (April 2006 – March 2007) prospective study of out-patients presenting with tinnitus to our Ear, Nose and Throat clinic who were administered the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) questionnaire until the sample size was reached.

Results: Questionnaires were administered to one hundred and four patients with tinnitus, 92 patients filled theirs correctly and these were analyzed. There were 42(45.7%) males and 50(54.3%) females (Table 1) with an age range of 20 to 78years.
Six hundred and eighty seven patients presented with various otologic ailments in the
study period, of which 104 (15.1%) patients had tinnitus.
The overall prevalence of depression was 17.4%, higher in females (9.8%) than males
(7.6%).The overall prevalence of anxiety was 22.8% with males having a higher
prevalence (11.9%) than females (10.9%). Three (3.2) patients had both depression and
anxiety. Eighty three (90.2%) patients were in the active and productive age group with
13 patients (prevalence of 14.1%) having depression and 20 patients (prevalence of
21.7%) with anxiety.

Conclusion: We recommend the screening or assessment for psychological distress in
tinnitus sufferers so that patients can be adequately treated.

Nigerian Journal of Medicine Vol. 17 (1) 2008 pp. 95-97
AJOL African Journals Online