Posted by: seattledizzygroup | April 30, 2017

New Hope for Tinnitus Sufferers

Integrated Approach to Treat Tinnitus

by Richard Wyckoff, PhD

of Eastside Integrative Psychology

(Presented to Seattle Dizzy Group on 3/11/17)

This presentation gives an overview of tinnitus including common causes as well as new treatment options.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a medical condition that causes sensation of noises such as buzzing, ringing, chirping or other sounds. It is not a hallucination even though other people are not able to hear it. It is not a mental illness, although it can cause symptoms such as anxiety and depression and irritability.

About 17% of people of all ages get it, but it is twice as common in the elderly. While most people with tinnitus do not require treatment, about 25% of those affected have intrusive tinnitus that can interfere with daily activity and sleep and cause great distress.

Many of these people are so bothered by tinnitus that treatment is required. They may experience intense anxiety, worrisome thoughts that will not stop, increased irritability, difficulty handling even minor stressors, depression and even suicidal thoughts.

What Causes Tinnitus?

The original source of disease is often trauma to the ear, such as an infection, blocked canal, otoslerosis, tumor, Meniere’s Disease, or drugs such as aspirin or antibiotics. Hearing loss or excessive exposure to loud sounds can also trigger tinnitus. Sometimes, however, tinnitus can appear without any of these precipitating factors.

The original problem leads to changes in the brain that cause tinnitus. Specific areas of the brain that control hearing, emotions and stress regulation are involved. For example, when cochlear lesions interfere with hearing in a specific frequency band width, the brain may attempt to compensate by generating this sound internally.

There are also neural pathways between the emotional centers of the brain, called the limbic system, and the auditory centers. Some of these neural pathways are excitatory (that is, they stimulate the auditory centers), while others are inhibitory (that is, they calm the auditory cortex).

Normally these competing pathways maintain balance and harmony. However, with tinnitus these pathways can be over or under active. This change in spontaneous neural activity can create the sound as well as the distress.

Treatment Options

In the past, treatments have been very limited. Some may gain a measure of relief through strategies that mask the noises with other noises. Others may find some benefit from a process of desensitization from the noises. Generally, psychiatric drugs are not indicated, and for some people they can make the problem worse. Surgical neural implants have helped some people. Many suffer needlessly. If you or someone you love suffers from tinnitus, an integrated approach to treatment can be very effective.

Some individuals are genetically predisposed to tinnitus because they have difficulty synthesizing certain neurochemicals and/or difficulty maintaining proper balance of certain key minerals. These individuals can be identified with a thorough diagnostic assessment including a review of symptoms, personal history, family history and medical history. A simple blood test and urinalysis can determine whether certain biochemical imbalances may contribute to the symptoms.

Biochemical imbalances may result from Kryptopyrrole Disorder (which causes a deficiency of B6 and zinc), Copper/Zinc Imbalance (usually caused by low zinc), or MTHFR Mutation (which causes overmethylation or undermethylation). These imbalances are corrected with advanced individualized nutritional therapy (which means the patient takes nutrients instead of drugs to address the problem).

Some patients may also benefit from concurrent psychotherapy to help them address the emotional consequences of tinnitus.

Find out more about tinnitus and behavioral medicine:


Richard Wyckoff, PhD

of Eastside Integrative Psychology

Dr. Richard A. Wyckoff is a licensed clinical psychologist who has been in practice since 1969 and has practiced in the Seattle area since 2005. He has specialized for many years in adult and geriatric behavioral medicine, dementia care and pain management.

From 1998 to 2004, he was grant-funded in Pennsylvania to teach behavioral alternatives to psychoactive medication in long term care. He co-authored three books with his wife Linda on behavior management. He currently specializes in the diagnosis and nutritional treatment of biochemical imbalances that cause mental health concerns.

In 2011 he founded the Alliance for Nutrition and Mental Health, an organization of mental health practitioners who are interested in incorporating nutrition science into their mental health practice. Currently, he is writing a new book with the working title, The Metabolic Mind, discussing how nutrition, lifestyle and everyday practices can help people build better brains to improve daily functioning. He has been trained by Dr. William Walsh of the Walsh Research Institute to provide advanced individualized nutrient therapy for those with treatment resistant mental health disorders associated with genetic and epigenetic metabolic factors. He is also working toward a post-doctoral diploma in orthomolecular psychology.

More information about Dr. Wyckoff:


Presentation information is not meant to be taken as medical advice.

Presentations posted online may include discussion notes, links, images, and other information added by Seattle Dizzy Group.


© Copyright 2017, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.


  1. […] 2017, we had guest speakers on the topics of “Decreasing Fatigue Naturally” and “Tinnitus” as well as “Exercise & Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance” and also […]

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Providing support & community for people living with chronic dizziness & imbalance -- in Seattle & beyond

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