Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a scenario 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 before the ringing began you were already feeling a little depressed. Which one came first is just not clear.

That’s precisely what scientists are trying to figure out regarding the connection between tinnitus and depression. That there is a link between tinnitus and major depressive conditions is rather well established. Study after study has borne out the notion that one tends to accompany the other. But the cause-and-effect connection is, well, more difficult to discern.

Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to contend that depression may be something of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, said a different way: They found that you can at times identify an issue with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. It’s possible, as a result, that we simply notice depression first. This research suggests that if somebody has been diagnosed with depression, it’s definitely a good idea for them to have a tinnitus screening.

Shared pathopsychology could be the base cause of both disorders and the two are frequently “comorbid”. Which is just a fancy way of saying that tinnitus and depression might have some common causes, and that’s why they show up together so often.

But in order to determine what the common cause is, more research will be required. Because it’s also possible that, in certain situations, tinnitus triggers depression; and in other circumstances, the reverse is true or they occur simultaneously 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 link is.

Will I Experience Depression if I Have Tinnitus?

Major depressive disorders can occur from many causes and this is one reason it’s tough to pin down a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also occur for many reasons. In most cases, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing in your ears. In some cases with tinnitus, you may hear other noises like a thumping or beating. Normally, chronic tinnitus, the type that doesn’t go away after a couple of hours or days, is the result of noise damage over a long period of time.

But there can be more severe causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, as an example, have been known to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And sometimes, tinnitus can even happen for no apparent reason at all.

So will you experience depression if you have chronic tinnitus? The answer is a challenging one to predict because of the wide variety of causes for tinnitus. But what seems pretty clear is that if you leave your tinnitus untreated, your risks might increase. The following reasons might help make sense of it:

  • For many individuals it can be a frustrating and draining undertaking to try and deal with the sounds of tinnitus that won’t go away.
  • Tinnitus can make doing some things you take pleasure in, such as reading, challenging.
  • The ringing and buzzing can make social communication more difficult, which can lead you to socially isolate yourself.

Dealing With Your Tinnitus

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

Treatment can move your tinnitus into the background, to put it another way. Meaning that you’ll be capable of keeping up more easily with social situations. You will have a much easier time following your favorite TV show or listening to your favorite tunes. And your life will have much less interruption.

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

Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Apparent

That’s why medical professionals are beginning to take a stronger interest in keeping your hearing in good condition.

At this point, 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. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression started first, treating your tinnitus can help considerably. And that’s why this insight 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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