Florida Hearing Matters - Fort Lauderdale, FL

Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a scenario of which one came first the chicken or the egg. You have some ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down because of it. Or, it’s possible you were feeling a little depressed before that ringing started. You’re just not sure which happened first.

When it comes to the connection between tinnitus and depression, that’s precisely what experts are attempting to figure out. That there is a link between tinnitus and major depressive disorders is pretty well established. The idea that one often comes with the other has been well established by numerous studies. But it’s far more challenging to comprehend the exact cause and effect relationship.

Does Depression Cause Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to say that depression may be somewhat of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, to put it a different way: they discovered that depression is frequently a more noticeable first sign than tinnitus. As a result, it’s feasible that we simply observe the depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anyone who has a screening for depression may also want to be tested for tinnitus.

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

But in order to identify what the common cause is, more research will be necessary. Because, in certain cases, it may be possible that depression is actually caused by tinnitus; in other situations the reverse is true and in yet others, the two occur at the same time but aren’t connected at all. Currently, the connections are just too unclear to put too much confidence in any one theory.

Will I Get Depression if I Suffer From Tinnitus?

In part, cause and effect is difficult to pin down because major depressive conditions can develop for a large number of reasons. Tinnitus can also develop for a number of reasons. In many cases, tinnitus presents as a buzzing or ringing in your ears. In some cases with tinnitus, you will hear other sounds 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 chronic tinnitus can have more severe causes. Permanent ringing in the ears is sometimes caused by traumatic brain injury for example. And tinnitus can occur sometimes with no recognizable cause.

So will you experience depression if you suffer from chronic tinnitus? The answer is a difficult one to predict because of the range of causes for tinnitus. But it is clear that your chances will rise if you neglect your tinnitus. The following reasons might help sort it out:

  • You might wind up socially isolating yourself because the ringing and buzzing causes you to have trouble with social communication.
  • Tinnitus can make doing certain things you enjoy, like reading, challenging.
  • The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it won’t go away on its own, can be a daunting and aggravating experience for some.

Managing Your Tinnitus

What the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression clue us into, thankfully, is that by treating the tinnitus we may be able to give some respite from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). You can lessen your symptoms and stay focused on the positive facets of your life by addressing your tinnitus utilizing treatments including cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you disregard the sounds) or masking devices (created to drown out the noise).

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

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

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

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

At this point, we’re still in a chicken and egg situation with regards to depression and tinnitus, but we’re pretty confident that the two are related. Whichever one began first, managing tinnitus can have a significant positive effect. And that’s the important 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.