Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a situation of which came first the chicken or the egg. You have a ringing in your ears. And it’s making you feel pretty low. Or, maybe you were feeling somewhat depressed before that ringing began. You’re just not sure which started first.

When it comes to the connection between depression and tinnitus, that’s exactly what researchers are trying to find out. That there is a link between tinnitus and major depressive disorders is fairly well established. The notion that one tends to come with the other has been well established by numerous studies. But the cause-and-effect connection is, well, more challenging to determine.

Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to say that depression may be something of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, said a different way: They noticed that you can at times identify a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. It’s possible, as a result, that we just notice depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers indicate that anybody who undergoes screening for depression may also want to be examined for tinnitus.

The idea is that tinnitus and depression might share a common pathopsychology and be frequently “comorbid”. Which is just a technical way of saying that tinnitus and depression might have some common causes, and that’s why they manifest together so frequently.

Clearly, more research is necessary to figure out what that common cause, if it exists, truly is. Because, in certain cases, it might be possible that depression is actually brought about by tinnitus; in other circumstances the opposite is true and in yet others, the two appear at the same time but aren’t related at all. We can’t, right now, have much confidence in any one theory because we simply don’t know enough about what the connection is.

Will I Get Depression if I Suffer From Tinnitus?

Major depressive conditions can occur from many causes and this is one reason why it’s hard to recognize a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also develop for a number of reasons. Tinnitus will usually cause a buzzing or ringing in your ears. In some cases with tinnitus, you may hear other noises such as a thumping or beating. Normally, chronic tinnitus, the type that doesn’t go away after a short period of time, is the result of noise damage over a long period of time.

But chronic tinnitus can have more serious causes. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, have been recognized to cause long lasting ringing in the ears. And sometimes, tinnitus can even develop for no perceptible reason whatsoever.

So if you suffer from chronic tinnitus, will you develop depression? The variety of causes behind tinnitus can make that challenging to know. But it is evident that your chances increase if you ignore your tinnitus. The following reasons may help sort it out:

  • The ringing and buzzing can make interpersonal communication more difficult, which can lead you to socially separate yourself.
  • Tinnitus can make doing certain things you love, such as reading, difficult.
  • For many people it can be a frustrating and exhausting task to attempt to deal with the noises of tinnitus that won’t go away.

Dealing With Your Tinnitus

What the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression clue us into, luckily, is that by treating the tinnitus we might be able to give some relief from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). You can reduce your symptoms and stay centered on the positive aspects of your life by dealing with your tinnitus utilizing treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you disregard the sounds) or masking devices (created to drown out the noise).

To put it another way, treatment can help your tinnitus diminish to the background. That means social situations will be easier to stay on top of. You will have an easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite tunes. And your life will have a lot less interruption.

Taking these steps won’t always stop depression. But research suggests that treating tinnitus can help.

Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Clear

That’s why medical professionals are beginning to take a more robust interest in keeping your hearing healthy.

At this stage, we’re still in a chicken and egg scenario when it comes to depression and tinnitus, but we’re pretty confident that the two are connected. Whichever one started first, treating tinnitus can have a considerable positive effect. And that’s why this information is important.

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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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