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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 about it. Or, it’s possible you were feeling somewhat depressed before the ringing started. Which one came first is simply not clear.

That’s exactly what researchers are trying to find out regarding the connection between depression and tinnitus. It’s rather well established that there is a link between tinnitus and depressive disorders. Study after study has borne out the notion that one often accompanies the other. But the cause-and-effect relationship is, well, more challenging to discern.

Does Depression Cause Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders appears to say that a precursor to tinnitus might be depression. Or, to put it a different way: They discovered that you can at times identify a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes apparent. Consequently, it’s possible that we simply observe the depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers indicate that anybody who goes through a screening for depression might also want to be checked for tinnitus.

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

But in order to identify what the common cause is, more research will be required. Because, in certain cases, it may be possible that depression is actually caused by tinnitus; and in other cases, the reverse is true or they happen 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 link is.

Will I Experience Depression if I Suffer From Tinnitus?

In part, cause and effect is hard to understand because major depressive conditions can develop for a wide variety of reasons. Tinnitus can also occur for many reasons. Tinnitus usually will cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Occasionally with tinnitus, you may hear other sounds such as a thumping or beating. Usually, chronic tinnitus, the type that doesn’t go away after a short period of time, is the result of noise damage over a long period of time.

But there can be more serious causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, as an example, have been known to cause long lasting ringing in the ears. And in some cases, tinnitus can even develop for no perceptible reason at all.

So will you develop depression if you have chronic tinnitus? The wide variety of causes behind tinnitus can make that tough to predict. But what seems pretty clear is that if you don’t treat your tinnitus, your risks may increase. The following reasons may help sort it out:

  • The ringing and buzzing can make social communication more difficult, which can cause you to socially isolate yourself.
  • It can be a challenge to do things you like, like reading when you suffer from tinnitus.
  • The noises of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away on its own, can be a challenging and frustrating experience for some.

Dealing With Your Tinnitus

Fortunately, the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression teaches us that we might be able to get respite from one by managing the other. You can lessen your symptoms and stay centered on the positive aspects of your life by dealing with your tinnitus utilizing treatments including cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you ignore the sounds) or masking devices (created to drown out the noise).

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 miss out on your favorite music or have a difficult time following your favorite TV show. And you’ll see very little interruption to your life.

That won’t stop depression in all cases. But treating tinnitus can help according to research.

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

Medical professionals are becoming more serious about keeping your hearing healthy due to 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 linked. Whichever one began first, treating tinnitus can have a significant positive effect. And that’s the crucial takeaway.

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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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