Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario. You have a ringing in your ears. And it’s causing you to feel pretty low. Or, perhaps you were feeling somewhat depressed before that ringing began. You’re just not sure which happened first.

That’s precisely what scientists are attempting to figure out when it comes to the connection between depression and tinnitus. That there is a connection between tinnitus and major depressive conditions is fairly well established. Many studies have borne out the notion that one often accompanies the other. But it’s much more difficult to recognize the exact cause and effect relationship.

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, said a different way: They discovered that you can at times identify an issue with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. As a result, it’s possible that we simply observe the depression first. This research suggests that if someone has been diagnosed with depression, it’s probably a good idea for them to get a tinnitus screening.

The idea is that tinnitus and depression might share a common pathopsychology and be commonly “comorbid”. In other words, there could be some shared causes between depression and tinnitus which would cause them to appear together.

But in order to figure out what the common cause is, more research will be required. Because it’s also feasible that, in certain cases, tinnitus triggers depression; in other circumstances the opposite is true and in yet others, the two appear at the same time but aren’t linked at all. Right now, the relationships are just too murky to put too much confidence in any one theory.

If I Have Tinnitus Will I Develop Depression?

Major depressive conditions can occur from many causes and this is one reason it’s difficult to recognize a cause and effect relationship. There can also be a number of reasons for tinnitus to manifest. In many cases, tinnitus presents as a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Sometimes with tinnitus, you may 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 there can be more severe causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, as an example, have been recognized to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And in some cases, 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 tough to predict. But it is clear that your chances will rise if you neglect your tinnitus. The following reasons might help sort it out:

  • It can be a challenge to do things you like, such as reading when you suffer from tinnitus.
  • The noises of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away on its own, can be a challenging and frustrating experience for many.
  • The buzzing and ringing can make interpersonal communication harder, which can lead you to socially separate yourself.

Treating Your Tinnitus

Luckily, the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression teaches us that we may be able to find relief from one by treating the other. You can reduce your symptoms and stay centered on the positive aspects of your life by dealing with your tinnitus using treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you overlook the sounds) or masking devices (created to drown out the noise).

Treatment can push your tinnitus into the background, to put it another way. That means social situations will be easier to keep up with. You will have a much easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite tunes. And you’ll see very little interruption to your life.

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

Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Apparent

Medical professionals are becoming more interested in keeping your hearing healthy due to this.

We’re pretty certain that tinnitus and depression are linked even though we’re not certain exactly what the relationship is. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression began first, managing your tinnitus can help considerably. 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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