It’s a chicken-or-egg situation. You have some ringing in your ears. And it’s making you feel pretty low. Or, perhaps you were feeling somewhat depressed before that ringing began. Which one came first is simply not clear.
When it comes to the link between tinnitus and depression, that’s precisely what experts are attempting to figure out. That there is a link between tinnitus and major depressive conditions is fairly well established. The idea that one often comes with the other has been well established by many studies. But the cause-and-effect connection is, well, more difficult to detect.
Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?
One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to contend that depression may be somewhat of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, to put it a different way: they observed that depression is frequently a more noticeable first symptom than tinnitus. As a result, it’s possible that we simply notice the depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anyone who goes through a screening for depression may also want to be examined for tinnitus.
The idea is that depression and tinnitus may share a common pathopsychology and be commonly “comorbid”. Which is just a technical way of saying that tinnitus and depression may have some shared causes, and that’s why they appear together so often.
But in order to figure out what the common cause is, more research will be needed. Because it’s also possible that, in certain circumstances, tinnitus results in depression; in other cases the reverse is true and in yet others, the two occur at the same time but aren’t related at all. Right now, the connections are just too murky to put too much confidence in any one theory.
If I Suffer From Tinnitus Will I Experience Depression?
In part, cause and effect is hard to pin down because major depressive conditions can happen for a wide variety of reasons. There can also be quite a few reasons for tinnitus to manifest. Tinnitus will usually cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Occasionally, the sound varies (a thump, a whump, a variety of other noises), but the underlying idea is the same. Noise damage over a long period of time is usually the cause of chronic tinnitus that is probably permanent.
But chronic tinnitus can have more serious causes. Traumatic brain injuries, as an example, have been recognized to cause long lasting ringing in the ears. And at times, tinnitus can even happen for no apparent reason whatsoever.
So will you experience depression if you suffer from chronic tinnitus? The answer is a challenging one to predict because of the wide variety of causes for tinnitus. But it is evident that your risks will rise if you neglect your tinnitus. The reason might be the following:
- The noises of the tinnitus, and the fact that it won’t go away on its own, can be a challenging and frustrating experience for some.
- You might end up socially separating yourself because the buzzing and ringing causes you to have problems with social communication.
- Tinnitus can make doing certain things you love, like reading, challenging.
Treating Your Tinnitus
Fortunately, the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus teaches us that we may be able to find relief from one by managing the other. From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is created to help you overlook the sounds) to masking devices (which are created to drown out the noise of your tinnitus), the right treatment can help you reduce your symptoms and stay centered on the joy in your life.
Treatment can move your tinnitus into the background, to put it in a different way. That means you’ll be capable of keeping up more easily with social situations. 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 steps won’t always stop depression. But research suggests that treating tinnitus can help.
Don’t Forget, It’s Still Unclear What The Cause And Effect is
That’s why medical professionals are beginning to take a more robust interest in keeping your hearing in good condition.
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 started first, treating tinnitus can have a considerable positive effect. And that’s why this insight is important.