It’s a chicken-or-egg situation. You have a ringing in your ears. And it’s making you feel pretty low. Or maybe before the ringing began you were already feeling a bit depressed. You’re just not certain which happened first.
That’s precisely what researchers are trying to find out regarding the link between tinnitus and depression. It’s pretty well established that there is a connection between depressive disorders and tinnitus. The notion that one often comes with the other has been born out by numerous studies. But it’s much more challenging to understand the exact cause and effect relationship.
Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?
One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders appears to say that a precursor to tinnitus may be depression. Or, to put it a different way: they observed that depression is frequently a more visible first sign than tinnitus. Consequently, it’s possible that we simply notice the depression first. This study suggests that if someone has been diagnosed with depression, it’s definitely a good idea for them to get a tinnitus screening.
Common pathopsychology might be the base cause of both disorders and the two are frequently “comorbid”. In other words, there may be some shared causes between depression and tinnitus which would cause them to occur together.
Clearly, more research is required to figure out what that shared cause, if it exists, truly is. Because it’s also possible that, in certain circumstances, tinnitus results in depression; in other situations the opposite is true and in yet others, the two appear at the same time but aren’t connected at all. 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 Get Depression if I Have Tinnitus?
In part, cause and effect is difficult to pin down because major depressive disorder can happen for a wide variety of reasons. Tinnitus can also occur for a number of reasons. In most cases, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Sometimes with tinnitus, you may hear other sounds such as a thumping or beating. Noise damage over a long period of time is usually the cause of chronic tinnitus that won’t go away.
But chronic tinnitus can have more severe causes. Traumatic brain injuries, as an example, have been known to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And tinnitus can occur sometimes with no evident cause.
So will you develop depression if you suffer from chronic tinnitus? The answer is a complicated one to predict because of the wide array of causes behind tinnitus. But it is evident that your chances increase if you ignore your tinnitus. The following reasons may help sort it out:
- The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it won’t go away by itself, can be a daunting and frustrating experience for some.
- Tinnitus can make doing certain things you take pleasure in, such as reading, difficult.
- You may wind up socially separating yourself because the ringing and buzzing causes you to have problems with interpersonal communication.
Treating Your Tinnitus
Luckily, the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression teaches us that we may be able to get respite from one by managing the other. You can minimize your symptoms and stay focused on the positive aspects of your life by managing your tinnitus using treatments including cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you ignore the sounds) or masking devices (created to drown out the noise).
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 won’t lose out on your favorite music or have a hard time following your favorite TV program. And your life will have much less interruption.
Taking these steps won’t always stop 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 due to this.
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 linked. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression began first, treating your tinnitus can help considerably. And that’s why this information is important.