Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Anxiety Caused By Illness


QUESTION: Hello I suffer from middle ear myoclonus or a muscle spasm in the ear. This has caused me to become very anxious and I feel like I'm losing my mind. I have already tried various treatment but nothing seems to stop the thumping sensations in my ear. I find that doctors are quick to say "learn to live with it" but they don't explain how exactly to do that. I find it hard to learn to live with my ailment. I would appreciate any advice you can give to me as I really do not know what else to do. Thank you.


I'd suggest giving it a bit more time to see if it resolves on its own or if you adapt to it. If not, see an otolaryngologist who treats it. (There's a simple surgical procedure involving tendon transection that has proved successful.)

An alternative would be a clinical psychologist who specializes in adapting to medical conditions.

Best of luck, and thanks for asking us,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Well given that I have had it for about 5 years now I think i might go with your second idea a Psychologist who specializes in adaption. PS i have tried that surgery to section the muscles and it did not help.

Because it's a rare condition, you might want to either see more than one psychologist or find one who'll try different approaches. (If you ask about experience with MEM, you'll get a blank stare. But if you ask about a specialty in the management of chronic pain, you'll more likely get a hit, and the treatment principles are similar.) Options include

-cognitive re-interpretation of the symptom
-biofeedback training to change the focus
-strategies for coping, such as distraction

An adjuvant direction might be anti-anxiety medication. I don't think psychologists in Texas can prescribe; in any case, the best practitioner for this would be a psychiatrist. A single visit might suffice, whereas seeing the psychologist would be more on-going.

Hope that helps a bit.


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Alan Auerbach


Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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