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Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a situation of which came first the chicken or the egg. You have some ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down about it. Or maybe before the ringing started you were already feeling a little depressed. You’re just not certain which started first.

When it comes to the connection between tinnitus and depression, that’s precisely what researchers are trying to figure out. It’s rather well established that there is a link between depressive disorders and tinnitus. The notion that one tends to come with the other has been well established by many 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 depression might be something of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, to put it another way: they found that depression is often a more noticeable first symptom than tinnitus. It’s possible, as a result, that we just notice depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers indicate that anyone who goes through a screening for depression might also want to be tested for tinnitus.

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

But in order to identify what the common cause is, more research will be needed. Because it’s also feasible that, in some cases, tinnitus causes depression; in other situations the reverse is true and in yet others, the two happen at the same time but aren’t related 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 Have Tinnitus Will I Experience Depression?

In part, cause and effect is tough to understand because major depressive conditions can develop for a large number of reasons. Tinnitus can also occur for many reasons. Tinnitus will normally cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. In some cases with tinnitus, you may hear other sounds like 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 serious causes for chronic tinnitus. Long lasting ringing in the ears is sometimes caused by traumatic brain injury for instance. And tinnitus can occur sometimes with no apparent cause.

So if you have chronic tinnitus, will you experience depression? The answer is a complicated one to predict because of the range of causes for tinnitus. But what seems pretty clear is that if you don’t treat your tinnitus, your chances may increase. The following reasons may help sort it out:

  • It can be a difficulty to do things you enjoy, like reading when you suffer from tinnitus.
  • The ringing and buzzing can make interpersonal communication more difficult, which can cause you to socially isolate yourself.
  • For many individuals it can be a frustrating and exhausting task to try and deal with the noises of tinnitus that won’t go away.

Dealing With Your Tinnitus

What the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus tells us, thankfully, is that by treating the tinnitus we might be able to offer some relief from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). You can decrease your symptoms and stay focused on the positive facets of your life by addressing your tinnitus utilizing treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you overlook the sounds) or masking devices (created to drown out the noise).

Treatment can push your tinnitus into the background, to put it another way. That means social activities will be easier to stay on top of. You will have a much easier time following your favorite TV show or listening to your favorite music. And you’ll find very little interruption to your life.

That won’t eliminate depression in all situations. But research indicates that managing tinnitus can help.

Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Apparent

Medical professionals are becoming more serious about keeping your hearing healthy because of this.

We’re pretty confident that depression and tinnitus are linked although we’re not sure 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 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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