Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a chicken-or-egg situation. There’s a ringing in your ears. And it’s causing you to feel pretty low. Or perhaps before the ringing started you were already feeling a bit depressed. Which one came first is just not certain.

That’s exactly what experts are trying to figure out regarding the connection between depression and tinnitus. That there is a link between tinnitus and major depressive conditions is fairly well established. The idea that one tends to come with the other has been born out by numerous studies. But the cause-and-effect relationship is, well, more challenging to detect.

Does Depression Cause Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to contend that depression might be somewhat of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, said a different way: they found that depression is frequently a more noticeable first sign than tinnitus. It’s possible, as a result, that we simply notice depression first. This research suggests that if someone has been diagnosed with depression, it’s definitely a good idea for them to get a tinnitus screening.

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

But in order to identify what the common cause is, more research will be necessary. Because it’s also possible that, in certain cases, tinnitus triggers depression; in other situations the opposite is true and in yet others, the two appear at the same time but aren’t connected at all. We can’t, right now, have much confidence in any one theory because we just don’t know enough about what the link is.

If I Suffer From Tinnitus Will I Experience Depression?

In part, cause and effect is hard to pin down because major depressive disorder can happen for a large number of reasons. There can also be a number of reasons for tinnitus to manifest. In most cases, tinnitus manifests as a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Sometimes with tinnitus, you will hear other sounds 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 acute causes for chronic tinnitus. Long lasting ringing in the ears is sometimes caused by traumatic brain injury for instance. And in some cases, tinnitus can even develop for no discernible reason whatsoever.

So will you develop depression if you have chronic tinnitus? The wide range of causes behind tinnitus can make that tough to know. But it is evident that your chances will rise if you neglect your tinnitus. The reason may be the following:

  • The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away by itself, can be a daunting and frustrating experience for many.
  • You may end up socially isolating yourself because the ringing and buzzing causes you to have problems with social communication.
  • Tinnitus can make doing certain things you love, such as reading, difficult.

Dealing With Your Tinnitus

Luckily, the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus teaches us that we may be able to find respite from one by treating the other. You can lessen your symptoms and stay centered on the positive aspects of your life by managing your tinnitus making use of 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. That means you’ll be able to keep up more easily with social activities. You will have an easier time following your favorite TV show or listening to your favorite tunes. And you’ll find very little interruption to your life.

That won’t eliminate depression in all situations. But research suggests that managing tinnitus can help.

Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Apparent

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. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression started first, managing your tinnitus can help considerably. And that’s the crucial 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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