Puretone Hearing Aid Center - Longview, Marshall, and San Antonio, TX

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 before the ringing began you were already feeling somewhat depressed. You’re just not certain which started first.

When it comes to the link between depression and tinnitus, that’s exactly what experts are trying to find out. That there is a link between tinnitus and major depressive conditions is fairly well established. The notion that one often comes with the other has been well established by numerous studies. But it’s far more challenging to comprehend the exact cause and effect relationship.

Is Depression Caused by 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 discovered that you can sometimes recognize a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes apparent. Consequently, it’s possible that we simply observe the 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.

Shared pathopsychology might be the base cause of both disorders and the two are frequently “comorbid”. Put another way, there may be some shared causes between depression and tinnitus which would cause them to occur together.

But in order to determine what the common cause is, more research will be required. Because it’s also possible that, in some cases, tinnitus triggers depression; in other cases the opposite is true and in yet others, the two occur 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 connection is.

Will I Get Depression if I Have Tinnitus?

Major depressive conditions can develop from many causes and this is one reason it’s difficult to pin down a cause and effect relationship. There can also be quite a few reasons for tinnitus to occur. In many cases, tinnitus manifests as a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Occasionally with tinnitus, you may hear other noises including a thumping or beating. Usually, chronic tinnitus, the type that doesn’t go away after a couple of hours or days, is caused by noise damage over a long period of time.

But chronic tinnitus can have more serious causes. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, have been known to cause long lasting ringing in the ears. And sometimes, tinnitus can even happen for no discernible reason whatsoever.

So if you suffer from chronic tinnitus, will you develop depression? The variety of causes of tinnitus can make that tough to know. But what seems quite clear is that if you leave your tinnitus untreated, your risks may increase. The reason may be as follows:

  • The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away on its own, can be a daunting and aggravating experience for some.
  • You might end up socially separating yourself because the ringing and buzzing causes you to have problems with interpersonal communication.
  • It can be a challenge to do things you love, such as reading when you suffer from tinnitus.

Treating Your Tinnitus

Fortunately, the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus teaches us that we might be able to get relief from one by managing the other. From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is designed to help you ignore the sounds) to masking devices (which are made to drown out the noise of your tinnitus), the correct treatment can help you decrease your symptoms and stay focused on the joy in your life.

To put it another way, treatment can help your tinnitus fade to the background. Meaning that you’ll be capable of keeping up more easily with social situations. You won’t lose out on your favorite music or have a tough time following your favorite TV program. And you’ll notice very little interruption to your life.

Taking these steps won’t always stop depression. But managing tinnitus can help based upon research.

Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Clear

Medical professionals are becoming more serious about keeping your hearing healthy due to this.

We’re pretty confident that tinnitus and depression are related even though 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 considerably. 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.