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Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a scenario of which came first the chicken or the egg. There’s a ringing in your ears. And it’s making you feel pretty low. Or, perhaps you were feeling a little depressed before that ringing began. You’re just not certain which started first.

When it comes to the link between depression and tinnitus, that’s precisely what experts are attempting to figure out. It’s rather well established that there is a link between depressive disorders and tinnitus. Many studies have shown that one often accompanies the other. But the cause-and-effect relationship is, well, more challenging to discern.

Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders appears to contend that a precursor to tinnitus might be depression. Or, stated another way: They discovered that you can at times recognize a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes apparent. As a result, it’s feasible that we simply notice the depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anybody who undergoes screening for depression might also want to be examined for tinnitus.

Shared pathopsychology could be the base cause of both disorders and the two are commonly “comorbid”. Which is just a fancy way of saying that depression and tinnitus might have some shared causes, and that’s the reason why they manifest together so often.

But in order to figure out what the common cause is, more research will be necessary. Because it’s also possible that, in certain circumstances, tinnitus triggers depression; in other cases the reverse is true and in yet others, the two happen at the same time but aren’t connected at all. Right now, the relationships are just too murky to put too much confidence in any one theory.

Will I Get Depression if I Suffer From Tinnitus?

In part, cause and effect is tough to pin down because major depressive conditions can happen for a large number of reasons. There can also be numerous reasons for tinnitus to manifest. In many cases, tinnitus presents as a ringing or buzzing in your ears. In some cases with tinnitus, you will 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 is probably permanent.

But there can be more acute causes for chronic tinnitus. Permanent ringing in the ears can be caused by traumatic brain injury for example. And sometimes, tinnitus can even develop for no tangible reason whatsoever.

So if you have chronic tinnitus, will you experience depression? The answer is a complicated one to predict because of the wide array of causes behind tinnitus. But what seems quite clear is that if you don’t treat your tinnitus, your risks will probably increase. The reason might be as follows:

  • The buzzing and ringing can make social communication more difficult, which can cause you to socially isolate yourself.
  • For some individuals it can be an aggravating and exhausting task to try and cope 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 depression and tinnitus tells us, fortunately, is that by treating the tinnitus we may be able to offer 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 created to drown out the sound of your tinnitus), the proper treatment can help you reduce your symptoms and stay focused on the joy in your life.

To put it in a different way, treatment can help your tinnitus diminish to the background. That means you’ll be capable of keeping up more easily with social situations. You will have an easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite music. And you’ll find very little disturbance to your life.

That won’t stop depression in all cases. But treating tinnitus can help according to research.

Don’t Forget, It’s Still Not Clear 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.

We’re pretty confident that depression and tinnitus are connected even though we’re not certain exactly what the connection is. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression began first, managing your tinnitus can help significantly. And that’s why this insight is important.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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