It’s a scenario of which one came first the chicken or the egg. You have some ringing in your ears. And it’s causing you to feel pretty low. Or, it’s possible you were feeling a little depressed before that ringing began. You’re just not sure which started first.
When it comes to the link between depression and tinnitus, that’s precisely what researchers are attempting to figure out. It’s fairly well established that there is a connection between tinnitus and depressive disorders. Study after study has borne out the notion that one tends to accompany the other. But the cause-and-effect connection is, well, more challenging to discern.
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, stated another way: they found that depression is commonly a more visible first sign than tinnitus. It’s possible, as a result, that we simply notice depression first. This research suggests that if somebody has been diagnosed with depression, it’s definitely a good idea for them to have a tinnitus screening.
The theory is that depression and tinnitus may share a common pathopsychology and be frequently “comorbid”. In other words, there may be some common causes between depression and tinnitus which would cause them to occur together.
But in order to identify what the common cause is, more research will be needed. Because, in certain situations, it might 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. We can’t, right now, have much confidence in any one theory because we simply don’t know enough about what the connection is.
Will I Get Depression if I Suffer From Tinnitus?
Major depressive conditions can occur from numerous causes and this is one reason why it’s difficult to recognize a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also occur for numerous reasons. Tinnitus usually will cause a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Occasionally with tinnitus, you will hear other noises including 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 there can be more acute causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, have been known to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And in some cases, tinnitus can even develop for no discernible reason whatsoever.
So if you have chronic tinnitus, will you develop depression? The answer is a difficult one to predict because of the wide array of causes behind tinnitus. But what seems quite clear is that if you leave your tinnitus untreated, your risks may increase. The reason might be the following:
- The buzzing and ringing can make interpersonal communication harder, which can cause you to socially separate yourself.
- For some individuals it can be an annoying and exhausting task to attempt to deal with the noises of tinnitus that won’t go away.
- It can be a difficulty to do things you enjoy, like reading when you have tinnitus.
Dealing With Your Tinnitus
What the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression tells us, luckily, is that by managing the tinnitus we might be able to give 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 noise of your tinnitus), the proper treatment can help you reduce your symptoms and stay centered on the things in life that bring you joy.
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 miss out on your favorite music or have a hard time following your favorite TV program. And your life will have a lot less interruption.
That won’t prevent depression in all cases. But treating tinnitus can help according to research.
Don’t Forget, It’s Still Unclear What The Cause And Effect is
Medical professionals are becoming more focused on keeping your hearing healthy due to this.
At this juncture, we’re still in a chicken and egg scenario with regards to tinnitus and depression, but we’re pretty confident that the two are related. Whichever one started first, managing tinnitus can have a considerable positive effect. And that’s why this information is important.