Gilberts Audiology & Hearing Aid Center - Oklahoma

Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a chicken-or-egg situation. You have some ringing in your ears. And it’s causing you to feel pretty low. Or maybe before the ringing began you were already feeling a bit depressed. You’re just not certain which happened first.

When it comes to the link between tinnitus and depression, that’s exactly what experts are attempting to figure out. It’s rather well established that there is a link between depressive disorders and tinnitus. Study after study has borne out the notion that one often accompanies the other. 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 a precursor to tinnitus might be depression. Or, stated another way: They discovered that you can at times recognize a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes apparent. It’s possible, as a result, that we just notice depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anyone who goes through a screening for depression may also want to be tested for tinnitus.

Shared pathopsychology might be the base cause of both disorders and the two are commonly “comorbid”. Which is just a fancy way of saying that tinnitus and depression might have some shared causes, and that’s why they appear together so often.

Needless to say, more research is needed to determine what that common cause, if it exists, truly is. Because, in some situations, it may be possible that depression is actually brought about by tinnitus; in other circumstances the reverse is true and in yet others, the two appear at the same time but aren’t related at all. Currently, the connections are just too unclear to put too much confidence behind any one theory.

If I Have Tinnitus Will I Develop Depression?

Major depressive disorders can develop from numerous causes and this is one reason it’s hard to recognize a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also occur for a number of reasons. Tinnitus usually will cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. At times, the sound varies (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 normally the cause of chronic tinnitus that is probably permanent.

But there can be more serious causes for chronic tinnitus. Long lasting ringing in the ears can be caused by traumatic brain injury for example. And tinnitus can occur sometimes with no apparent cause.

So if you have chronic tinnitus, will you develop depression? The variety of causes behind tinnitus can make that difficult to know. But what seems pretty clear is that if you leave your tinnitus untreated, your risks might increase. The reason may be the following:

  • For some people it can be a frustrating and draining undertaking to try and cope with the noises of tinnitus that won’t go away.
  • You may wind up socially isolating yourself because the buzzing and ringing causes you to have trouble with social communication.
  • It can be a challenge to do things you like, like reading when you have tinnitus.

Dealing With Your Tinnitus

Fortunately, the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression teaches us that we may be able to get respite from one by managing the other. You can decrease your symptoms and stay focused on the positive aspects of your life by dealing with your tinnitus utilizing treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you ignore 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 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 disturbance.

That won’t stop depression in all cases. 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 interested in keeping your hearing healthy due to this.

At this stage, we’re still in a chicken and egg scenario with regards to tinnitus and depression, but we’re pretty confident that the two are linked. Whichever one began first, managing 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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