It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario. You have some ringing in your ears. And it’s making you feel pretty low. Or perhaps before the ringing started you were already feeling somewhat depressed. You’re just not certain which started first.
That’s exactly what experts are attempting to figure out regarding the link between tinnitus and depression. That there is a link between tinnitus and major depressive disorders is pretty well established. The idea that one tends to come with the other has been born out by many studies. But it’s much more difficult to recognize the exact cause and effect relationship.
Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?
One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders appears to contend that a precursor to tinnitus might be depression. Or, stated another way: they observed that depression is frequently a more noticeable first sign than tinnitus. It’s possible, as a result, that we just notice depression first. This study indicates that if somebody has been diagnosed with depression, it’s definitely a good idea for them to get a tinnitus screening.
The theory 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 required. Because it’s also possible that, in some situations, tinnitus triggers depression; in other cases the opposite is true and in yet others, the two appear at the same time but aren’t connected at all. We can’t, right now, have much confidence in any one theory because we just don’t know enough about what the link is.
If I Suffer From Tinnitus Will I Experience Depression?
Major depressive conditions can occur from many causes and this is one reason why it’s hard to recognize a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also develop for numerous reasons. Tinnitus normally will cause a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Sometimes with tinnitus, you may hear other noises such as a thumping or beating. Noise damage over a long period of time is usually the cause of chronic tinnitus that won’t go away.
But there can be more acute causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, as an example, have been known to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And sometimes, tinnitus can even happen for no apparent reason at all.
So will you experience depression if you have chronic tinnitus? The wide range of causes of tinnitus can make that challenging to know. But it is clear that your chances will rise if you neglect your tinnitus. The reason might be the following:
- The noises of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away by itself, can be a daunting and aggravating experience for some.
- You may wind up socially isolating yourself because the buzzing and ringing causes you to have problems with interpersonal communication.
- Tinnitus can make doing some things you take pleasure in, like reading, challenging.
Dealing With Your Tinnitus
What the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus tells us, luckily, is that by managing the tinnitus we might be able to give some respite from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). You can minimize your symptoms and stay focused on the positive aspects of your life by managing your tinnitus using treatments including cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you ignore the sounds) or masking devices (created to drown out the noise).
To put it another way, treatment can help your tinnitus fade to the background. That means social situations will be easier to keep up with. You won’t lose out on your favorite music or have a difficult time following your favorite TV program. And you’ll notice very little disturbance to your life.
Taking these steps won’t always stop depression. But research indicates 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 because of this.
We’re pretty certain that depression and tinnitus are connected although we’re not certain exactly what the connection is. Whichever one began first, managing tinnitus can have a considerable positive effect. And that’s why this insight is important.