It’s a situation of which came first the chicken or the egg. There’s a ringing in your ears. And it’s causing you to feel pretty low. Or maybe before the ringing started you were already feeling a little depressed. Which one came first is just not certain.
That’s exactly what experts are trying to find out when it comes to the link between depression and tinnitus. That there is a connection between tinnitus and major depressive disorders is rather well established. Many studies have borne out the notion that one tends to accompany the other. But the cause-and-effect connection is, well, more challenging to discern.
Does Depression Cause Tinnitus?
One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to say that a precursor to tinnitus might be depression. Or, to put it a different way: They found that you can sometimes identify a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. It’s likely, as a result, that we just 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 checked for tinnitus.
The idea is that tinnitus and depression may share a common pathopsychology and be frequently “comorbid”. Put another way, there might be some common causes between tinnitus and depression which would cause them to occur together.
But in order to figure out what the common cause is, more research will be needed. Because it’s also possible that, in certain cases, tinnitus causes depression; in other cases the opposite is true and in yet others, the two happen at the same time but aren’t related at all. 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?
In part, cause and effect is difficult to pin down because major depressive disorder can happen for a wide variety of reasons. Tinnitus can also develop for a number of reasons. Tinnitus usually will cause a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Sometimes, the sound changes (a thump, a whump, a variety of other noises), but the main idea is the same. Usually, chronic tinnitus, the kind that doesn’t go away after a short period of time, is the result of noise damage over a long period of time.
But there can be more serious causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, have been known to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And tinnitus can happen sometimes with no evident cause.
So will you experience depression if you suffer from chronic tinnitus? The wide range of causes behind tinnitus can make that tough to predict. But it is evident that your chances will rise if you ignore your tinnitus. The reason might be as follows:
- It can be a difficulty to do things you enjoy, like reading when you suffer from tinnitus.
- The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it won’t go away on its own, can be a challenging and aggravating experience for many.
- The buzzing and ringing can make social communication more difficult, which can lead you to socially isolate yourself.
Managing Your Tinnitus
What the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression clue us into, fortunately, is that by treating the tinnitus we may be able to give some respite from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is created to help you disregard the sounds) to masking devices (which are made to drown out the sound of your tinnitus), the right treatment can help you decrease your symptoms and stay centered on the joy in your life.
Treatment can move your tinnitus into the background, to put it in a different way. Meaning that you’ll be capable of keeping up more easily with social activities. You will have an easier time following your favorite TV show or listening to your favorite tunes. And you’ll find very little interruption to your life.
Taking these steps won’t always prevent depression. But research suggests 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 juncture, 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 started first, managing tinnitus can have a significant positive effect. And that’s the crucial takeaway.