It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario. There’s a ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down about it. Or perhaps before the ringing began you were already feeling a bit depressed. You’re just not certain which happened first.
When it comes to the connection between depression and tinnitus, that’s precisely what experts are attempting to find out. It’s fairly well established that there is a connection between tinnitus and depressive disorders. The notion that one often comes with the other has been well established by many studies. But it’s far more challenging to recognize the exact cause and effect relationship.
Does Depression Cause Tinnitus?
One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to say that depression may be somewhat of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, to put it a different way: they observed that depression is often a more visible first sign than tinnitus. It’s likely, as a result, that we simply notice depression first. This research indicates that if somebody has been diagnosed with depression, it’s definitely a good idea for them to have a tinnitus screening.
The theory is that tinnitus and depression might share a common pathopsychology and be commonly “comorbid”. In other words, there might be some common causes between tinnitus and depression which would cause them to appear together.
Needless to say, more research is required to determine what that common cause, if it exists, actually is. Because it’s also possible that, in certain situations, tinnitus results in depression; and in other cases, the opposite is true or they happen concurrently for different reasons. Right now, the connections are just too murky to put too much confidence behind any one theory.
If I Suffer From Tinnitus Will I Develop Depression?
Major depressive disorders can develop from many causes and this is one reason why it’s difficult to recognize a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also develop for many reasons. Tinnitus will normally cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Occasionally with tinnitus, you will hear other noises including a thumping or beating. Normally, 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, as an example, have been recognized to cause long lasting ringing in the ears. And sometimes, tinnitus can even happen for no apparent reason at all.
So if you suffer from chronic tinnitus, will you develop depression? The variety of causes of tinnitus can make that tough to predict. But it is evident that your chances will rise if you neglect your tinnitus. The following reasons may help sort it out:
- Tinnitus can make doing certain things you enjoy, like reading, difficult.
- You might end up socially separating yourself because the buzzing and ringing causes you to have problems with interpersonal communication.
- For some individuals it can be a frustrating and draining undertaking to attempt to deal with the sounds of tinnitus that won’t go away.
Dealing With Your Tinnitus
What the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression tells us, thankfully, is that by managing the tinnitus we may be able to give some respite from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is designed to help you ignore the sounds) to masking devices (which are created to drown out the sound of your tinnitus), the correct treatment can help you lessen your symptoms and stay focused on the things in life that bring you joy.
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 will have an easier time following your favorite TV show or listening to your favorite music. And your life will have much less disturbance.
That won’t eliminate depression in all situations. But research suggests that treating tinnitus can help.
Don’t Forget, It’s Still Not Clear What The Cause And Effect is
That’s why medical professionals are starting to take a more robust interest in keeping your hearing healthy.
We’re pretty certain that tinnitus and depression are related even though we’re not certain exactly what the relationship is. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression began first, treating your tinnitus can help significantly. And that’s why this insight is important.