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Tinnitus: clinical experience of the psychosomatic connection

Authors Salviati M, Bersani FS, Terlizzi S, Melcore C, Panico R, Romano GF, Valeriani G, Macrì F, Altissimi G, Mazzei F, Testugini V, Latini L, Delle Chiaie R, Biondi M, Cianfrone G

Received 4 June 2013

Accepted for publication 21 June 2013

Published 10 February 2014 Volume 2014:10 Pages 267—275


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Massimo Salviati,1 Francesco Saverio Bersani,1 Samira Terlizzi,1 Claudia Melcore,1 Roberta Panico,1 Graziella Francesca Romano,1 Guiseppe Valeriani,1 Francesco Macrì,1 Giancarlo Altissimi,2 Filippo Mazzei,2 Valeria Testugini,2 Luca Latini,1 Roberto Delle Chiaie,1 Massimo Biondi,1 Giancarlo Cianfrone2

1Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Acute Psychiatric Ward (Servizio Psichiatrico di Diagnosi e Cura - SPDC), Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy, 2Department of Sense Organs, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Background: The connection between psychopathology and tinnitus is complex and not adequately studied. The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between tinnitus and psychiatric comorbidities from different points of view: categorical, dimensional, temperamental, and perceived stress level.
Methods: Two hundred and thirty-nine patients affected by tinnitus were recruited between January and October 2012. Patients underwent a preliminary battery of tests including the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI), Symptom Check List (SCL90-R), Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), and Stress-Related Vulnerability Scale (VRS), and eventually a full psychiatric evaluation.
Results: One hundred and fourteen patients (48% of the total sample) presented psychiatric comorbidity. Among these, a higher prevalence of depression, somatization, obsession, and anxiety was found. More than 41% of patients affected by decompensated tinnitus reported a family history of psychiatric disorders. Significant positive correlations between the psychopathological screening tools (SCL90-R and VRS) and THI were found. Patients affected by comorbid psychiatric disorder showed specific temperamental and characterial predispositions.
Conclusion: Psychiatric comorbidity in subjects affected by tinnitus is frequent. Stress can be considered as a factor leading to damage and dysfunction of the auditory apparatus. The vulnerability to neurotic disorders and the lack of coping capabilities can play a critical role in the clinical history of patients affected by severe tinnitus.

Keywords: tinnitus, psychosomatics, stress, psychopathological dimensions, personality

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