Hearing Services of Nashville

Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a situation of which came first the chicken or the egg. There’s a ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down about it. Or perhaps before the ringing began you were already feeling somewhat depressed. You’re just not sure which started first.

That’s precisely what researchers are trying to figure out when it comes to the link between depression and tinnitus. It’s pretty well established that there is a connection between tinnitus and depressive disorders. The idea 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 a precursor to tinnitus may be depression. Or, to put it another way: They noticed that you can at times recognize an issue with depression before tinnitus becomes apparent. Consequently, it’s feasible that we simply observe the depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anybody who undergoes screening for depression may also want to be tested for tinnitus.

Shared pathopsychology could be the base cause of both disorders and the two are commonly “comorbid”. In other words, there might be some shared 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 required. Because it’s also possible that, in some circumstances, tinnitus results in depression; and in other cases, the reverse is true or they happen simultaneously for different reasons. Currently, the connections are just too unclear to put too much confidence behind any one theory.

Will I Get Depression if I Have Tinnitus?

In part, cause and effect is difficult to understand because major depressive disorder can happen for a wide variety of reasons. There can also be a number of reasons for tinnitus to occur. In many cases, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Occasionally with tinnitus, you may hear other noises like a thumping or beating. In most cases, chronic tinnitus, the kind 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 severe causes. Traumatic brain injuries, as an example, have been known to cause long lasting ringing in the ears. And tinnitus can happen sometimes with no apparent cause.

So will you experience depression if you suffer from chronic tinnitus? The answer is a challenging one to predict because of the wide array of causes behind tinnitus. But what seems pretty clear is that if you don’t treat your tinnitus, your risks might increase. The reason may be the following:

  • The ringing and buzzing can make social communication more difficult, which can lead you to socially isolate yourself.
  • For some individuals it can be an annoying and exhausting undertaking to try and cope with the noises of tinnitus that won’t go away.
  • Tinnitus can make doing certain things you love, such as reading, challenging.

Dealing With Your Tinnitus

What the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression clue us into, thankfully, is that by managing the tinnitus we might be able to offer some relief from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is created to help you overlook 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.

Treatment can push your tinnitus into the background, to put it another way. That means social situations will be easier to keep up with. You will have a much easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite tunes. And your life will have a lot less disturbance.

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

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

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

At this stage, we’re still in a chicken and egg situation with regards to depression and tinnitus, but we’re pretty confident that the two are connected. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression started first, managing your tinnitus can help significantly. And that’s why this insight is important.

Call Today to Set Up an Appointment

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.
Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss. Call Us Today