Tinnitus Distress occurs when tinnitus is experienced as intrusive or bothersome. At mild levels of distress, tinnitus is annoying and distracting. At moderate levels, you experience anxiety, irritability, and have trouble sleeping or concentrating. When tinnitus distress is severe, both sleep and concentration are impaired. You anxiously monitor your tinnitus, withdraw from friends and family, and find it hard to keep your mind on anything else. You believe that with tinnitus, enjoyment and meaning are diminished or impossible. Life as you've known it is over.