It’s a situation of which one came first the chicken or the egg. You have some ringing in your ears. And it’s causing you to feel pretty low. Or, maybe you were feeling a little depressed before that ringing started. Which one came first is just not certain.
When it comes to the connection between tinnitus and depression, that’s precisely what experts are trying to figure out. That there is a link between tinnitus and major depressive conditions is rather well established. The notion that one tends to come with the other has been born out 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 noticed that you can sometimes recognize an issue with depression before tinnitus becomes apparent. It’s possible, as a result, that we simply notice depression first. This study suggests 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 tinnitus and depression might share a common pathopsychology and be frequently “comorbid”. In other words, there might be some common causes between depression and tinnitus which would cause them to occur together.
But in order to figure out what the common cause is, more research will be needed. Because it’s also possible that, in certain cases, tinnitus causes depression; in other circumstances the opposite is true and in yet others, the two appear at the same time but aren’t linked at all. We can’t, right now, have much confidence in any one theory because we simply don’t know enough about what the link is.
Will I Get Depression if I Have Tinnitus?
In part, cause and effect is hard to pin down because major depressive disorder can happen for a wide variety of reasons. There can also be a number of reasons for tinnitus to occur. Tinnitus usually will cause a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Occasionally, the sound changes (a thump, a whump, various other noises), but the underlying idea is the same. Usually, chronic tinnitus, the type that doesn’t go away after a short period of time, is caused by noise damage over a long period of time.
But there can be more severe causes for chronic tinnitus. Long lasting ringing in the ears is sometimes caused by traumatic brain injury for example. And at times, tinnitus can even develop for no tangible reason at all.
So will you experience depression if you suffer from chronic tinnitus? The answer is a difficult one to predict because of the range of causes behind tinnitus. But what seems quite clear is that if you leave your tinnitus untreated, your risks will probably increase. The reason might be the following:
- It can be a difficulty to do things you love, such as reading when you have tinnitus.
- The buzzing and ringing can make social communication more difficult, which can lead you to socially isolate yourself.
- The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away by itself, can be a daunting and frustrating experience for many.
Managing Your Tinnitus
What the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus clue us into, fortunately, is that by treating the tinnitus we might be able to give some respite from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). You can decrease your symptoms and stay focused on the positive aspects of your life by addressing your tinnitus utilizing treatments such as 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 in a different way. That means social activities will be easier to stay on top of. You will have a much easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite music. And your life will have much less disturbance.
That won’t prevent depression in all situations. But managing tinnitus can help according to research.
Don’t Forget, It’s Still Not Clear What The Cause And Effect is
Medical professionals are becoming more serious about keeping your hearing healthy because of this.
We’re pretty certain that tinnitus and depression are connected although we’re not sure exactly what the connection is. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression started first, treating your tinnitus can help significantly. And that’s why this information is important.