Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a situation of which one came first the chicken or the egg. You have some ringing in your ears. And it’s causing you to feel pretty low. Or, perhaps you were feeling somewhat depressed before the ringing started. You’re just not certain which started first.

When it comes to the connection between tinnitus and depression, that’s exactly what researchers are trying to find out. It’s pretty well established that there is a connection between tinnitus and depressive disorders. Many studies have shown that one often accompanies the other. 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 depression might be something of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, to put it another 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 get a tinnitus screening.

Common pathopsychology may be at the root of both disorders and the two are commonly “comorbid”. Which is just a fancy way of saying that tinnitus and depression might have some common causes, and that’s why they manifest together so frequently.

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 causes depression; in other cases the opposite is true and in yet others, the two happen at the same time but aren’t linked at all. Right now, the connections are just too murky to put too much confidence in any one theory.

Will I Get Depression if I Have Tinnitus?

Major depressive conditions can develop from numerous causes and this is one reason why it’s hard to pin down a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also develop for a number of reasons. In most cases, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Occasionally with tinnitus, you will hear other noises like a thumping or beating. In most cases, chronic tinnitus, the type that doesn’t go away after a short period of time, is caused by noise damage over a long period of time.

But chronic tinnitus can have more severe causes. Permanent ringing in the ears is sometimes caused by traumatic brain injury for example. And tinnitus can happen sometimes with no obvious cause.

So will you experience depression if you have chronic tinnitus? The wide range of causes of tinnitus can make that tough to predict. But it is evident that your chances increase if you neglect your tinnitus. The following reasons may help sort it out:

  • The noises of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away by itself, can be a daunting and frustrating experience for many.
  • Tinnitus can make doing some things you love, like reading, difficult.
  • The ringing and buzzing can make social communication more difficult, which can lead you to socially isolate yourself.

Treating Your Tinnitus

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

Treatment can push your tinnitus into the background, to put it in a different way. That means social situations will be easier to keep up with. You won’t lose out on your favorite music or have a tough time following your favorite TV program. And your life will have much less interruption.

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

Don’t Forget, It’s Still Not Clear What The Cause And Effect is

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

We’re pretty confident that depression and tinnitus are connected although we’re not certain exactly what the connection is. Whichever one began first, treating tinnitus can have a considerable positive effect. 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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