Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario. There’s a ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down about it. Or perhaps before the ringing started you were already feeling a bit depressed. Which one came first is just not clear.

That’s precisely what experts are trying to figure out regarding the link between tinnitus and depression. It’s rather well established that there is a link between depressive disorders and tinnitus. The notion that one often comes with the other has been born out by numerous studies. But it’s far more difficult to understand the exact cause and effect relationship.

Does Depression Cause Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders appears to say that a precursor to tinnitus might be depression. Or, stated another way: They found that you can at times recognize an issue with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. Consequently, it’s possible that we simply notice the depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers indicate that anybody who undergoes screening for depression might also want to be examined for tinnitus.

The idea is that tinnitus and depression might share a common pathopsychology and be frequently “comorbid”. Which is just a fancy way of saying that depression and tinnitus might have some shared causes, and that’s the reason why they manifest together so often.

Needless to say, more research is required to figure out what that shared cause, if it exists, actually is. Because, in certain situations, it may be possible that depression is actually caused by tinnitus; in other cases the opposite is true and in yet others, the two happen at the same time but aren’t connected at all. Right now, the connections are just too unclear to put too much confidence in any one theory.

If I Suffer From Tinnitus Will I Develop Depression?

In part, cause and effect is hard to understand because major depressive disorder can happen for a wide variety of reasons. Tinnitus can also develop for a number of reasons. In many cases, tinnitus presents as a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Sometimes, the sound changes (a thump, a whump, a variety of other noises), but the underlying concept is the same. In most cases, 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 acute causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, have been recognized to cause long lasting ringing in the ears. And sometimes, tinnitus can even develop for no tangible reason whatsoever.

So will you develop depression if you have chronic tinnitus? The answer is a difficult one to predict because of the wide variety of causes behind tinnitus. But it is evident that your chances will rise if you ignore your tinnitus. The following reasons might help sort it out:

  • For some people it can be an annoying and exhausting task to try and cope with the sounds of tinnitus that won’t go away.
  • It can be a challenge to do things you love, like reading when you suffer from tinnitus.
  • You might wind up socially isolating yourself because the buzzing and ringing causes you to have problems with interpersonal communication.

Dealing With Your Tinnitus

What the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus tells us, thankfully, is that by managing the tinnitus we may be able to offer some relief from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). You can lessen your symptoms and stay centered on the positive aspects of your life by dealing with 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 push your tinnitus into the background, to put it another way. That means social activities will be easier to keep up with. You will have a much easier time following your favorite TV show or listening to your favorite tunes. And your life will have a lot less interruption.

Taking these measures won’t always stop depression. But managing tinnitus can help according to research.

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

Medical professionals are becoming more serious about keeping your hearing healthy because of this.

We’re pretty certain that tinnitus and depression are linked although we’re not certain exactly what the connection is. Whichever one started first, managing tinnitus can have a considerable 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.