It’s a situation of which one came first the chicken or the egg. 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. Which one came first is just not clear.
When it comes to the connection between depression and tinnitus, that’s precisely what scientists are attempting to find out. It’s rather well established that there is a connection between tinnitus and depressive disorders. Many studies have borne out the notion 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 seems to contend that depression may be somewhat of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, stated a different way: they observed that depression is often a more noticeable first sign than tinnitus. It’s possible, as a result, that we just notice depression first. This study suggests that if somebody has been diagnosed with depression, it’s probably a good idea for them to get a tinnitus screening.
Common pathopsychology might be at the root of both disorders and the two are commonly “comorbid”. Put another way, there could be some shared causes between tinnitus and depression which would cause them to appear together.
Clearly, more research is required to determine what that common cause, if it exists, truly is. Because, in certain cases, it may be possible that depression is actually brought about by tinnitus; in other cases the reverse is true and in yet others, the two appear at the same time but aren’t related at all. Currently, the relationships are just too unclear to put too much confidence behind any one theory.
If I Have Tinnitus Will I Develop Depression?
In part, cause and effect is difficult to understand because major depressive disorder can happen for a large number of reasons. Tinnitus can also occur for many reasons. Tinnitus will usually cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. At times, 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 normally the cause of chronic tinnitus that won’t go away.
But there can be more acute causes for chronic tinnitus. Long lasting ringing in the ears is sometimes caused by traumatic brain injury for example. And sometimes, tinnitus can even develop for no apparent reason at all.
So if you suffer from chronic tinnitus, will you experience depression? The answer is a complicated one to predict because of the wide variety of causes behind tinnitus. But what seems fairly clear is that if you leave your tinnitus untreated, your risks will probably increase. The reason might be the following:
- The noises of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away on its own, can be a daunting and aggravating experience for many.
- It can be a challenge to do things you love, such as reading when you have tinnitus.
- The ringing and buzzing can make social communication more difficult, which can lead you to socially separate yourself.
Treating Your Tinnitus
What the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression clue us into, thankfully, is that by managing the tinnitus we may be able to offer some respite from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is created to help you ignore the sounds) to masking devices (which are created to drown out the sound of your tinnitus), the proper treatment can help you minimize your symptoms and stay centered on the things in life that bring you joy.
Treatment can move your tinnitus into the background, to put it another way. That means social situations will be easier to keep up with. You will have an easier time following your favorite TV show or listening to your favorite tunes. And you’ll see very little disturbance to your life.
Taking these measures won’t always prevent depression. But research reveals that managing tinnitus can help.
Don’t Forget, It’s Still Unclear What The Cause And Effect is
Medical professionals are becoming more interested in keeping your hearing healthy because of this.
We’re pretty confident that depression and tinnitus are related although we’re not sure exactly what the connection is. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression started first, managing your tinnitus can help significantly. And that’s why this information is important.