Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a chicken-or-egg situation. You have some ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down because of it. Or, perhaps you were feeling a bit depressed before the ringing began. You’re just not sure which happened first.

That’s exactly what scientists are trying to find out when it comes to the link between tinnitus and depression. That there is a link between tinnitus and major depressive conditions is fairly well established. The idea that one often comes with the other has been well established by numerous studies. But the cause-and-effect relationship is, well, more difficult to discern.

Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to contend that a precursor to tinnitus may be depression. Or, to put it another way: They noticed that you can at times recognize a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. Consequently, it’s possible that we simply observe the depression first. This research indicates that if someone has been diagnosed with depression, it’s definitely a good idea for them to get a tinnitus screening.

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

But in order to determine what the common cause is, more research will be required. Because it’s also feasible that, in some circumstances, tinnitus results in depression; and in other cases, 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 simply don’t know enough about what the link is.

Will I Experience Depression if I Have Tinnitus?

Major depressive conditions can develop from many causes and this is one reason why it’s tough to pin down a cause and effect relationship. There can also be numerous reasons for tinnitus to manifest. Tinnitus will usually cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Sometimes with tinnitus, you will hear other noises such as a thumping or beating. Noise damage over a long period of time is usually the cause of chronic tinnitus that is probably permanent.

But there can be more serious causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, have been recognized to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And sometimes, tinnitus can even develop for no tangible reason at all.

So if you have chronic tinnitus, will you experience depression? The answer is a difficult one to predict because of the wide variety of causes for tinnitus. But what seems fairly clear is that if you don’t treat your tinnitus, your chances may increase. The following reasons may help sort it out:

  • Tinnitus can make doing some things you love, like reading, difficult.
  • For many people it can be an annoying and draining task to attempt to cope with the sounds of tinnitus that won’t go away.
  • The buzzing and ringing can make interpersonal communication harder, which can lead you to socially isolate yourself.

Treating Your Tinnitus

Luckily, the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus teaches us that we might be able to find relief from one by treating the other. From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is designed to help you disregard the sounds) to masking devices (which are created to drown out the noise of your tinnitus), the right treatment can help you minimize your symptoms and stay centered on the things in life that bring you joy.

Treatment can move your tinnitus into the background, to put it another way. That means you’ll be capable of keeping up more easily with social situations. You won’t miss out on your favorite music or have a tough time following your favorite TV program. And your life will have a lot less disturbance.

Taking these steps won’t always stop depression. But managing tinnitus can help based upon research.

Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Clear

Medical professionals are becoming more focused on keeping your hearing healthy due to this.

We’re pretty confident that tinnitus and depression are connected although we’re not sure exactly what the relationship is. Whichever one started first, managing tinnitus can have a significant 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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