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Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a chicken-or-egg situation. You have a ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down because of it. Or, it’s possible you were feeling somewhat depressed before the ringing started. Which one came first is just not certain.

That’s exactly what scientists are trying to figure out regarding the link between depression and tinnitus. It’s rather well established that there is a link between depressive disorders and tinnitus. The idea that one often comes with the other has been well established by numerous studies. But the cause-and-effect connection is, well, more difficult to discern.

Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders appears to contend that a precursor to tinnitus may be depression. Or, to put it another way: They discovered that you can at times recognize a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes apparent. Consequently, it’s feasible that we simply notice the depression first. This study suggests that if somebody has been diagnosed with depression, it’s definitely a good idea for them to get a tinnitus screening.

Shared pathopsychology might be the base cause of both disorders and the two are commonly “comorbid”. Which is just a fancy way of saying that tinnitus and depression may have some common causes, and that’s the reason why they manifest together so frequently.

Needless to say, more research is needed to figure out what that common cause, if it exists, actually is. Because it’s also possible that, in certain cases, tinnitus results in depression; and in other cases, the opposite is true or they appear concurrently for different reasons. We can’t, at this point, have much confidence in any one theory because we just don’t know enough about what the connection is.

Will I Experience Depression if I Have Tinnitus?

Major depressive conditions can occur from numerous causes and this is one reason why it’s tough to pin down a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also occur for numerous reasons. Tinnitus usually will cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Sometimes with tinnitus, you may hear other noises such as a thumping or beating. Usually, chronic tinnitus, the kind that doesn’t go away after a couple of hours or days, is the result of noise damage over a long period of time.

But chronic tinnitus can have more serious causes. Traumatic brain injuries, as an example, have been known to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And at times, tinnitus can even happen for no perceptible reason whatsoever.

So if you have chronic tinnitus, will you experience depression? The wide range of causes behind tinnitus can make that tough to know. But it is clear that your risks will rise if you ignore your tinnitus. The following reasons may help make sense of it:

  • For some people it can be a frustrating and draining undertaking to attempt to deal with the sounds of tinnitus that won’t go away.
  • Tinnitus can make doing certain things you enjoy, such as reading, difficult.
  • The ringing and buzzing can make social communication more difficult, which can lead you to socially separate yourself.

Dealing With Your Tinnitus

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

To put it in a different way, treatment can help your tinnitus fade to the background. That means you’ll be able to keep up more easily with social activities. You will have a much easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite tunes. And you’ll notice very little interruption to your life.

Taking these measures won’t always prevent depression. But treating tinnitus can help according to research.

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

That’s why medical professionals are starting to take a stronger interest in keeping your hearing healthy.

At this stage, we’re still in a chicken and egg scenario with regards to depression and tinnitus, but we’re pretty confident that the two are linked. Whichever one began first, managing tinnitus can have a significant positive effect. 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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