It’s a chicken-or-egg situation. You have a ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down about it. Or, maybe you were feeling a bit depressed before that ringing started. You’re just not certain which happened first.
That’s exactly what scientists are trying to find out regarding the connection between depression and tinnitus. That there is a link between tinnitus and major depressive disorders is pretty well established. The idea that one often comes with the other has been born out by numerous studies. But it’s much more challenging to understand the exact cause and effect relationship.
Does Depression Cause Tinnitus?
One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders appears to contend that depression might be something of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, stated a different way: they found that depression is commonly a more noticeable first sign than tinnitus. It’s likely, as a result, that we just notice depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anyone who has a screening for depression might also want to be examined for tinnitus.
Common pathopsychology may be at the root of both disorders and the two are commonly “comorbid”. In other words, there may be some shared causes between depression and tinnitus which would cause them to occur together.
Clearly, more research is required to determine what that common cause, if there is one, truly is. Because it’s also possible that, in certain situations, tinnitus causes depression; in other cases the reverse is true and in yet others, the two happen at the same time but aren’t connected at all. We can’t, right now, have much confidence in any one theory because we simply don’t know enough about what the connection is.
Will I Get Depression if I Suffer From Tinnitus?
Major depressive disorders can occur from numerous causes and this is one reason why it’s difficult to pin down a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also occur for many reasons. Tinnitus will normally cause a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Sometimes with tinnitus, you will hear other sounds like a thumping or beating. Noise damage over a long period of time is usually the cause of chronic tinnitus that is probably permanent.
But there can be more serious causes for chronic tinnitus. Permanent ringing in the ears is sometimes caused by traumatic brain injury for instance. And tinnitus can happen sometimes with no evident cause.
So if you have chronic tinnitus, will you experience depression? The answer is a difficult one to predict because of the variety of causes behind tinnitus. But what seems fairly clear is that if you leave your tinnitus untreated, your chances will probably increase. The following reasons might help make sense of it:
- The noises of the tinnitus, and the fact that it won’t go away on its own, can be a daunting and frustrating experience for many.
- Tinnitus can make doing some things you take pleasure in, like reading, challenging.
- The ringing and buzzing can make social communication more difficult, which can cause you to socially separate yourself.
Managing Your Tinnitus
Luckily, the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus teaches us that we may be able to find relief from one by managing the other. You can lessen your symptoms and stay focused on the positive aspects of your life by addressing your tinnitus using 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 tunes. And your life will have much less disturbance.
That won’t eliminate depression in all situations. But treating tinnitus can help based upon research.
Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Apparent
Medical professionals are becoming more serious about keeping your hearing healthy because of this.
At this stage, we’re still in a chicken and egg scenario with regards to depression and tinnitus, but we’re pretty certain that the two are connected. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression started first, treating your tinnitus can help considerably. And that’s the crucial takeaway.