The Connection Between Depression And Tinnitus

Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a chicken-or-egg situation. You have some ringing in your ears. And it’s making you feel pretty low. Or, perhaps you were feeling a little depressed before the ringing began. You’re just not certain which happened first.

When it comes to the link between depression and tinnitus, that’s exactly what researchers are trying to find out. It’s rather well established that there is a link between depressive disorders and tinnitus. The notion that one often comes with the other has been born out by numerous studies. But the cause-and-effect relationship is, well, more difficult to detect.

Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to contend that a precursor to tinnitus might be depression. Or, to put it another way: They discovered that you can at times identify an issue with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. It’s likely, as a result, that we just notice depression first. This study indicates that if someone has been diagnosed with depression, it’s probably a good idea for them to get a tinnitus screening.

Shared pathopsychology might be the base cause of both disorders and the two are commonly “comorbid”. Which is just a technical way of saying that tinnitus and depression might have some common causes, and that’s the reason why they show up together so frequently.

But in order to determine what the common cause is, more research will be necessary. Because, in some cases, it may be possible that depression is actually caused by tinnitus; and in other circumstances, the reverse is true or they appear simultaneously for different reasons. Currently, the connections are just too unclear to put too much confidence in any one theory.

Will I Get Depression if I Suffer From Tinnitus?

In part, cause and effect is tough to pin down because major depressive conditions can happen for a wide variety of reasons. Tinnitus can also develop for numerous reasons. Tinnitus usually will cause a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Sometimes, the sound changes (a thump, a whump, various other noises), but the underlying concept is the same. Usually, chronic tinnitus, the type that doesn’t go away after a couple of hours or days, is the result of noise damage over a long period of time.

But there can be more severe causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, as an example, have been recognized to cause long lasting ringing in the ears. And in some cases, tinnitus can even develop for no discernible reason whatsoever.

So if you suffer from chronic tinnitus, will you develop depression? The variety of causes behind tinnitus can make that tough to predict. But what seems pretty clear is that if you leave your tinnitus untreated, your risks might increase. The following reasons might help make sense of it:

  • For some individuals it can be an annoying and exhausting undertaking to try and deal with the noises of tinnitus that won’t go away.
  • Tinnitus can make doing certain things you take pleasure in, like reading, challenging.
  • The buzzing and ringing can make interpersonal communication more difficult, which can lead you to socially separate yourself.

Treating Your Tinnitus

Fortunately, the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus teaches us that we might be able to get relief 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 noise of your tinnitus), the right treatment can help you lessen your symptoms and stay centered on the joy in your life.

To put it in a different way, treatment can help your tinnitus fade to the background. That means you’ll be capable of keeping up more easily with social activities. You will have an easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite tunes. And you’ll see very little interruption to your life.

That won’t eliminate depression in all cases. But treating tinnitus can help according to research.

Don’t Forget, It’s Still Not Clear What The Cause And Effect is

That’s why medical professionals are beginning to take a more robust interest in keeping your hearing in good condition.

At this juncture, we’re still in a chicken and egg scenario with regards to depression and tinnitus, but we’re pretty confident that the two are related. Whichever one began first, treating tinnitus can have a significant positive effect. And that’s the important takeaway.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Questions? Talk To Us.