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Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a situation of which one came first the chicken or the egg. You have some ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down because of it. Or, it’s possible you were feeling a bit depressed before the ringing started. You’re just not certain which happened first.

When it comes to the connection between depression and tinnitus, that’s exactly what researchers are trying to figure out. That there is a link between tinnitus and major depressive conditions is fairly well established. Study after study has shown that one tends to accompany the other. But the cause-and-effect connection is, well, more difficult to discern.

Does Depression Cause Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders appears to contend that a precursor to tinnitus might be depression. Or, said another way: they observed that depression is frequently a more noticeable first symptom than tinnitus. It’s possible, as a result, that we simply notice depression first. This study indicates that if somebody has been diagnosed with depression, it’s definitely a good idea for them to have a tinnitus screening.

The idea is that depression and tinnitus may share a common pathopsychology and be frequently “comorbid”. In other words, there could be some common causes between depression and tinnitus which would cause them to occur together.

Needless to say, more research is necessary to determine what that shared cause, if it exists, actually is. Because, in some situations, it might be possible that depression is actually brought about by tinnitus; and in other circumstances, the reverse is true or they happen concurrently for different reasons. We can’t, right now, have much confidence in any one theory because we just don’t know enough about what the connection is.

Will I Experience Depression if I Have Tinnitus?

Major depressive conditions can develop from numerous causes and this is one reason it’s hard to pin down a cause and effect relationship. There can also be a number of reasons for tinnitus to happen. Tinnitus usually will cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Sometimes, the sound varies (a thump, a whump, a variety of other noises), but the main concept is the same. 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 severe causes for chronic tinnitus. Permanent ringing in the ears is sometimes caused by traumatic brain injury for example. And tinnitus can happen sometimes with no obvious cause.

So will you experience depression if you have chronic tinnitus? The wide range of causes behind tinnitus can make that challenging to predict. But it is evident that your risks increase if you neglect your tinnitus. The following reasons might help sort it out:

  • For many people it can be an annoying and exhausting undertaking to try and cope with the sounds of tinnitus that won’t go away.
  • Tinnitus can make doing certain things you enjoy, such as reading, difficult.
  • The buzzing and ringing can make social communication harder, which can cause you to socially isolate yourself.

Treating Your Tinnitus

Luckily, the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus teaches us that we may be able to get relief from one by treating the other. From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is designed to help you overlook the sounds) to masking devices (which are created to drown out the sound of your tinnitus), the right 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 able to keep up more easily with social activities. You will have an easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite tunes. And your life will have a lot less disturbance.

Taking these steps won’t always prevent depression. But research suggests that managing 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 stronger interest in keeping your hearing healthy.

We’re pretty confident that tinnitus and depression are related even though we’re not certain exactly what the connection is. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression started first, managing your tinnitus can help significantly. And that’s why this information is important.

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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.
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