It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario. You have some ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down about it. Or, it’s possible you were feeling a little depressed before that ringing started. You’re just not certain which started first.
That’s exactly what researchers are attempting to find out when it comes to the link between tinnitus and depression. It’s rather well established that there is a link between depressive disorders and tinnitus. Many studies have borne out the notion that one tends to accompany the other. But the cause-and-effect connection is, well, more difficult to determine.
Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?
One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to contend that depression may be something of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, stated another way: They found that you can at times identify an issue with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. Consequently, it’s feasible that we simply observe the depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anybody who has a screening for depression may also want to be examined for tinnitus.
Shared pathopsychology may be the base cause of both disorders and the two are frequently “comorbid”. In other words, there could be some shared causes between depression and tinnitus which would cause them to appear together.
But in order to determine what the common cause is, more research will be required. Because it’s also feasible that, in certain circumstances, tinnitus triggers depression; in other situations the opposite is true and in yet others, the two happen at the same time but aren’t related at all. Currently, the connections are just too unclear to put too much confidence in any one theory.
If I Have Tinnitus Will I Experience Depression?
In part, cause and effect is hard to understand because major depressive conditions can happen for a wide variety of reasons. There can also be numerous reasons for tinnitus to occur. In most cases, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing in your ears. In some cases with tinnitus, you will hear other sounds including a thumping or beating. Usually, chronic tinnitus, the kind 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 severe causes for chronic tinnitus. Permanent ringing in the ears is sometimes caused by traumatic brain injury for instance. And tinnitus can occur sometimes with no recognizable cause.
So if you suffer from chronic tinnitus, will you experience depression? The variety of causes behind tinnitus can make that challenging to know. But it is evident that your chances increase if you ignore your tinnitus. The reason might be as follows:
- It can be a challenge to do things you enjoy, like reading when you have tinnitus.
- You may end up socially separating yourself because the ringing and buzzing causes you to have trouble with interpersonal communication.
- 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 many.
Treating Your Tinnitus
What the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus tells us, fortunately, is that by treating the tinnitus we may be able to offer some respite from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is designed to help you overlook the sounds) to masking devices (which are created to drown out the noise of your tinnitus), the correct treatment can help you minimize 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 stay on top of. You will have an easier time following your favorite TV show or listening to your favorite tunes. And you’ll see very little interruption to your life.
That won’t eliminate depression in all cases. But research suggests that treating tinnitus can help.
Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Apparent
Medical professionals are becoming more focused on keeping your hearing healthy because of this.
At this juncture, we’re still in a chicken and egg scenario when it comes 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 the crucial takeaway.