It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario. You have a ringing in your ears. And it’s making you feel pretty low. Or maybe before the ringing started you were already feeling a little depressed. You’re just not certain which started first.
That’s exactly what experts are trying to find out regarding the link between tinnitus and depression. That there is a link between tinnitus and major depressive disorders is rather well established. The idea that one often comes with the other has been well established by numerous studies. But the cause-and-effect connection is, well, more difficult to detect.
Does Depression Cause Tinnitus?
One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to contend that depression might be something of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, said another way: They noticed that you can at times recognize an issue with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. It’s likely, as a result, that we simply notice depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers indicate that anybody who goes through a screening for depression may also want to be tested for tinnitus.
Shared pathopsychology may be the base cause of both disorders and the two are frequently “comorbid”. In other words, there might be some common causes between tinnitus and depression which would cause them to appear together.
Needless to say, more research is necessary to figure out what that common cause, if there is one, truly is. Because, in some cases, it may be possible that depression is actually brought about 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. Right now, the connections are just too unclear to put too much confidence in any one theory.
If I Have Tinnitus Will I Experience Depression?
Major depressive conditions can develop from many causes and this is one reason why it’s difficult to recognize a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also develop for numerous reasons. Tinnitus usually will cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Sometimes, the sound changes (a thump, a whump, a variety of other noises), but the root concept is the same. 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 can be caused by traumatic brain injury for instance. And tinnitus can happen sometimes with no recognizable cause.
So will you experience depression if you suffer from chronic tinnitus? The answer is a complicated one to predict because of the range of causes for tinnitus. But what seems fairly clear is that if you don’t treat your tinnitus, your risks might increase. The reason might be as follows:
- Tinnitus can make doing some things you love, such as reading, challenging.
- You might wind up socially separating yourself because the buzzing and ringing causes you to have difficulty with interpersonal communication.
- For many people it can be an annoying and exhausting task to try and cope with the sounds of tinnitus that won’t go away.
Treating Your Tinnitus
What the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus tells us, fortunately, is that by treating the tinnitus we might be able to offer some respite from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). You can decrease your symptoms and stay centered on the positive facets 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 move your tinnitus into the background, to put it in a different way. That means social activities will be easier to stay on top of. You won’t lose out on your favorite music or have a tough time following your favorite TV show. And you’ll notice very little interruption to your life.
Taking these measures won’t always stop depression. But research indicates that treating tinnitus can help.
Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Apparent
Medical professionals are becoming more serious about keeping your hearing healthy because of this.
At this stage, we’re still in a chicken and egg scenario with regards to tinnitus and depression, but we’re pretty certain that the two are related. Whichever one started first, managing tinnitus can have a considerable positive effect. And that’s the important takeaway.