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Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario. 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 happened first.

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

Does Depression Cause Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders appears to say that a precursor to tinnitus may be depression. Or, said another way: They found that you can sometimes identify a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes apparent. It’s possible, as a result, that we just notice depression first. This study suggests that if someone has been diagnosed with depression, it’s probably 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”. Which is just a fancy way of saying that depression and tinnitus might have some common causes, and that’s why they manifest together so frequently.

Needless to say, more research is required to figure out what that shared cause, if there is one, actually is. Because, in some situations, it may be possible that depression is actually brought about by tinnitus; in other situations the opposite is true and in yet others, the two occur at the same time but aren’t connected at all. Currently, the relationships are just too murky to put too much confidence in any one theory.

If I Have Tinnitus Will I Experience Depression?

Major depressive conditions can occur from many causes and this is one reason it’s hard to pin down a cause and effect relationship. There can also be numerous reasons for tinnitus to occur. Tinnitus will usually cause a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Occasionally with tinnitus, you will hear other noises such as 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 acute causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, have been recognized to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And in some cases, tinnitus can even happen for no perceptible reason at all.

So will you experience depression if you have chronic tinnitus? The wide variety of causes behind tinnitus can make that tough to know. But it is evident that your chances will rise if you neglect your tinnitus. The reason might be as follows:

  • The buzzing and ringing can make interpersonal communication harder, which can lead you to socially isolate yourself.
  • Tinnitus can make doing certain things you enjoy, like reading, challenging.
  • For many individuals it can be an aggravating and exhausting task to attempt to deal with the sounds of tinnitus that won’t go away.

Dealing With Your Tinnitus

Luckily, the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression teaches us that we might be able to find relief from one by treating the other. From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is created to help you ignore the sounds) to masking devices (which are created to drown out the noise of your tinnitus), the right treatment can help you decrease your symptoms and stay centered on the things in life that bring you joy.

To put it another way, treatment can help your tinnitus diminish to the background. That means social activities will be easier to stay on top of. You won’t miss out on your favorite music or have a difficult time following your favorite TV program. And your life will have a lot less interruption.

That won’t prevent depression in all cases. But treating tinnitus can help based upon research.

Don’t Forget, It’s Still Unclear What The Cause And Effect is

That’s why medical professionals are beginning to take a stronger interest in keeping your hearing in good condition.

We’re pretty confident that tinnitus and depression are connected although we’re not sure exactly what the relationship is. Whichever one began first, managing tinnitus can have a considerable positive effect. And that’s why this insight 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.