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 maybe before the ringing started you were already feeling a bit depressed. You’re just not sure which started first.
When it comes to the connection between depression and tinnitus, that’s exactly what experts are trying to figure out. That there is a connection between tinnitus and major depressive disorders is fairly well established. The idea that one often comes with the other has been well established by numerous studies. But it’s much more challenging to recognize 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, to put it another way: They noticed that you can sometimes recognize an issue with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. Consequently, it’s feasible that we simply notice the depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anyone who undergoes screening for depression might also want to be tested for tinnitus.
Common pathopsychology could be the base cause of both disorders and the two are commonly “comorbid”. Which is just a technical way of saying that tinnitus and depression might have some shared causes, and that’s the reason why they show up together so often.
But in order to figure out what the common cause is, more research will be required. Because it’s also feasible that, in certain situations, tinnitus results in depression; and in other cases, the reverse is true or they appear simultaneously for different reasons. We can’t, at this point, have much confidence in any one theory because we just don’t know enough about what the link is.
Will I Get Depression if I Suffer From Tinnitus?
Major depressive conditions can occur from many causes and this is one reason it’s difficult to recognize a cause and effect relationship. There can also be a number of reasons for tinnitus to happen. Tinnitus will normally cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Sometimes with tinnitus, you may hear other noises like a thumping or beating. In most cases, chronic tinnitus, the type that doesn’t go away after a couple of hours or days, is caused by noise damage over a long period of time.
But chronic tinnitus can have more serious causes. Permanent ringing in the ears is sometimes caused by traumatic brain injury for instance. And tinnitus can happen sometimes with no evident cause.
So if you suffer from chronic tinnitus, will you experience depression? The answer is a difficult one to predict because of the wide array of causes for tinnitus. But what seems pretty clear is that if you leave your tinnitus untreated, your chances might increase. The reason may be as follows:
- The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away by itself, can be a challenging and aggravating experience for some.
- You might end up socially isolating yourself because the ringing and buzzing causes you to have problems with interpersonal communication.
- It can be a difficulty to do things you like, such as reading when you suffer from tinnitus.
Treating Your Tinnitus
What the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus clue us into, luckily, is that by managing the tinnitus we might be able to give some relief from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). You can minimize your symptoms and stay focused on the positive aspects of your life by addressing your tinnitus utilizing treatments including cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you ignore the sounds) or masking devices (created to drown out the noise).
To put it in a different way, treatment can help your tinnitus fade to the background. Meaning that you’ll be able to keep up more easily with social situations. You will have a much easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite music. And your life will have much less disturbance.
That won’t stop depression in all situations. But treating tinnitus can help according to research.
Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Apparent
That’s why medical professionals are beginning to take a more robust interest in keeping your hearing healthy.
At this point, we’re still in a chicken and egg scenario with regards to depression and tinnitus, but we’re pretty confident that the two are connected. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression began first, treating your tinnitus can help considerably. And that’s why this insight is important.