Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a situation of which one came first the chicken or the egg. You have a ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down because of it. Or, maybe you were feeling somewhat depressed before that ringing started. Which one came first is simply not clear.

When it comes to the connection between depression and tinnitus, that’s precisely what researchers are attempting to figure out. It’s fairly well established that there is a connection between depressive disorders and tinnitus. The notion that one tends to come with the other has been born out by numerous studies. But it’s much more difficult to understand the exact cause and effect relationship.

Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to say that a precursor to tinnitus may be depression. Or, said another way: they observed that depression is often a more visible first sign than tinnitus. As a result, it’s feasible that we simply observe the depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anyone who undergoes screening for depression might also want to be tested for tinnitus.

Shared pathopsychology might be the base cause of both disorders and the two are frequently “comorbid”. In other words, there might be some common causes between depression and tinnitus which would cause them to appear together.

Clearly, more research is necessary to figure out what that shared cause, if it exists, truly is. Because, in some cases, it may be possible that depression is actually caused by tinnitus; and in other circumstances, the reverse is true or they happen concurrently for different reasons. We can’t, right now, have much confidence in any one theory because we just don’t know enough about what the connection is.

If I Suffer From Tinnitus Will I Develop Depression?

Major depressive disorders can occur from many causes and this is one reason it’s tough to pin down a cause and effect relationship. There can also be numerous reasons for tinnitus to happen. Tinnitus normally will cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. In some cases with tinnitus, you will hear other noises like a thumping or beating. Noise damage over a long period of time is usually the cause of chronic tinnitus that is probably permanent.

But chronic tinnitus can have more serious causes. Permanent ringing in the ears is sometimes caused by traumatic brain injury for instance. And at times, tinnitus can even develop for no perceptible reason whatsoever.

So if you have chronic tinnitus, will you develop depression? The answer is a difficult one to predict because of the variety of causes behind tinnitus. But what seems pretty clear is that if you leave your tinnitus untreated, your chances may increase. The reason may be as follows:

  • Tinnitus can make doing certain things you enjoy, like reading, difficult.
  • For many individuals it can be a frustrating and draining task to try and cope with the noises of tinnitus that won’t go away.
  • You might end up socially isolating yourself because the ringing and buzzing causes you to have problems with social communication.

Treating Your Tinnitus

What the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression tells us, thankfully, is that by treating the tinnitus we might be able to give some respite from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is created to help you disregard the sounds) to masking devices (which are made to drown out the noise of your tinnitus), the correct treatment can help you reduce your symptoms and stay focused on the things in life that bring you joy.

To put it in a different way, treatment can help your tinnitus fade to the background. That means you’ll be capable of keeping up more easily with social situations. You will have an easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite tunes. And you’ll notice very little interruption to your life.

Taking these measures won’t always prevent depression. But managing tinnitus can help according to research.

Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Clear

Medical professionals are becoming more serious about keeping your hearing healthy due to this.

We’re pretty certain that depression and tinnitus are related even though we’re not sure exactly what the relationship is. Whichever one began first, managing tinnitus can have a considerable positive effect. And that’s the important takeaway.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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