It’s a scenario of which one came first the chicken or the egg. There’s a ringing in your ears. And it’s making you feel pretty low. Or, perhaps you were feeling a little depressed before that ringing started. Which one came first is just not certain.
When it comes to the connection between depression and tinnitus, that’s precisely what researchers are trying to figure out. It’s fairly well established that there is a link between depressive disorders and tinnitus. Many studies have borne out the notion that one often accompanies the other. But the cause-and-effect relationship 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 may be depression. Or, said a different way: They discovered that you can sometimes identify an issue with depression before tinnitus becomes apparent. Consequently, it’s possible that we simply observe the depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anyone who has a screening for depression might also want to be tested for tinnitus.
Shared pathopsychology might be at the root of both disorders and the two are frequently “comorbid”. Put another way, there might be some common causes between depression and tinnitus which would cause them to appear together.
But in order to identify what the common cause is, more research will be required. Because it’s also feasible that, in certain situations, tinnitus triggers depression; in other circumstances the opposite is true and in yet others, the two happen at the same time but aren’t linked at all. Right now, the connections are just too unclear to put too much confidence in any one theory.
Will I Experience Depression if I Have Tinnitus?
Major depressive disorders can develop from numerous causes and this is one reason it’s tough to pin down a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also develop for a number of reasons. In many cases, tinnitus presents as a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Occasionally with tinnitus, you will hear other sounds such as a thumping or beating. Noise damage over a long period of time is normally 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 long lasting ringing in the ears. And tinnitus can happen sometimes with no apparent cause.
So will you develop depression if you have chronic tinnitus? The answer is a complicated one to predict because of the variety of causes behind tinnitus. But it is clear that your chances increase if you neglect your tinnitus. The reason may be the following:
- The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it won’t go away by itself, can be a daunting and aggravating experience for many.
- It can be a challenge to do things you love, such as reading when you suffer from tinnitus.
- The ringing and buzzing can make interpersonal communication more difficult, which can lead you to socially separate yourself.
Managing Your Tinnitus
What the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression clue us into, luckily, is that by treating the tinnitus we might be able to offer some relief from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is designed to help you overlook the sounds) to masking devices (which are made to drown out the sound of your tinnitus), the correct treatment can help you minimize your symptoms and stay focused on the things in life that bring you joy.
Treatment can push your tinnitus into the background, to put it another way. Meaning that you’ll be capable of keeping up more easily with social activities. You won’t lose out on your favorite music or have a hard time following your favorite TV show. And your life will have a lot less interruption.
That won’t eliminate 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
That’s why medical professionals are starting to take a stronger interest in keeping your hearing healthy.
We’re pretty certain that tinnitus and depression are connected even though we’re not sure exactly what the relationship is. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression started first, managing your tinnitus can help significantly. And that’s the crucial takeaway.