Disabling tinnitus. Association with affective disorder

Mark D. Sullivan, Wayne Katon, Robert Dobie, Connie Sakai, Joan Russo, Jane Harrop-Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


Forty consecutive patients with disabling tinnitus were interviewed using a structured psychiatric interview and were asked to complete the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (SCL-90), the Chronic Illness Problem Inventory, and the Revised Ways of Coping Checklist. They were compared to a control group of 14 patients attending the same otolaryngologic clinic with a complaint of hearing loss. The tinnitus patients had a significantly greater lifetime prevalence of major depression (78% vs 21%) than controls and a significantly higher prevalence of current major depression (60% vs 7%). The currently depressed tinnitus patients had significantly higher scores on all subscales of the SCL-90 compared to the nondepressed tinnitus group and to the controls. The number of psychological problems as measured by the Chronic Illness Problem Inventory was significantly greater in the tinnitus group than in controls. This difference in psychosocial disability was due to the high psychologic and social impairment in the depressed tinnitus group, as there were no significant differences in psychosocial problems between the nondepressed tinnitus group and the controls. These results demonstrate that tinnitus disability is strongly associated with major depression and suggest that treatment of the concurrent affective illness may reduce disability due to tinnitus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-291
Number of pages7
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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