It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario. There’s a ringing in your ears. And it’s causing you to feel pretty low. Or perhaps before the ringing began you were already feeling a little depressed. Which one came first is just not certain.
When it comes to the link between tinnitus and depression, that’s precisely what experts are trying to figure out. That there is a connection between tinnitus and major depressive disorders is rather well established. Study after study has borne out the notion that one often accompanies the other. But it’s much more difficult to recognize the exact cause and effect relationship.
Does Depression Cause Tinnitus?
One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders appears to contend that a precursor to tinnitus may be depression. Or, to put it a different way: they discovered that depression is frequently a more noticeable first sign than tinnitus. It’s possible, as a result, that we simply notice depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anyone who has a screening for depression might also want to be checked for tinnitus.
The idea is that tinnitus and depression might share a common pathopsychology and be frequently “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 frequently.
Clearly, more research is necessary to figure out what that common cause, if there is one, actually is. Because, in certain cases, it might be possible that depression is actually caused by tinnitus; and in other circumstances, the opposite is true or they appear concurrently for different reasons. We can’t, right now, have much confidence in any one theory because we simply don’t know enough about what the connection is.
Will I Experience Depression if I Suffer From Tinnitus?
Major depressive disorders can occur from many causes and this is one reason why it’s hard to pin down a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also occur for many reasons. In most cases, tinnitus presents as a buzzing or ringing in your ears. In some cases with tinnitus, you may hear other sounds like a thumping or beating. In most cases, chronic tinnitus, the kind that doesn’t go away after a short period of time, is caused by noise damage over a long period of time.
But chronic tinnitus can have more serious causes. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, have been known to cause long lasting ringing in the ears. And tinnitus can occur sometimes with no recognizable cause.
So if you suffer from chronic tinnitus, will you develop depression? The answer is a challenging one to predict because of the range of causes behind tinnitus. But what seems fairly clear is that if you leave your tinnitus untreated, your risks may increase. The following reasons might help sort it out:
- It can be a challenge to do things you enjoy, like reading when you have tinnitus.
- You might wind up socially isolating yourself because the ringing and buzzing causes you to have trouble with social communication.
- For some individuals it can be an aggravating and draining undertaking to attempt to cope with the noises of tinnitus that won’t go away.
Treating Your Tinnitus
Luckily, the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression teaches us that we may be able to get respite from one by treating the other. 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 lessen your symptoms and stay centered on the things in life that bring you joy.
Treatment can move your tinnitus into the background, to put it in a different 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 difficult time following your favorite TV show. And you’ll notice very little interruption to your life.
That won’t prevent depression in all cases. But managing tinnitus can help based upon research.
Don’t Forget, It’s Still Not Clear What The Cause And Effect is
Medical professionals are becoming more serious about keeping your hearing healthy because of this.
We’re pretty confident that depression and tinnitus are related even though we’re not sure exactly what the connection is. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression began first, managing your tinnitus can help considerably. And that’s why this information is important.