Anxiety and the Limbic System
The limbic system controls stress, anxiety, blood pressure, and related functions. When an unexpected stimulus pops up, the limbic system gets to work making sure you’re ready for whatever comes. When you’re driving down the freeway and see a police officer on the side of the road with a radar gun and you tense up, that’s your limbic system in action. Now imagine feeling that tense all the time, and you get a feel for what tinnitus is like for many people.
There’s a foreign ringing sound, and because it’s foreign you focus on it. Once you focus on the ringing it sounds more prominent, and therefore draws more of your attention. The increased attention only reinforces the annoying character of the sound, and makes it more distracting. Thus begins the self-reinforcing cycle of tinnitus and annoyance or anxiety. Tinnitus treatment focuses on breaking this cycle.