It’s a chicken-or-egg situation. You have some ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down because of it. Or, perhaps you were feeling a little depressed before that ringing started. You’re just not certain which started first.
When it comes to the link between tinnitus and depression, that’s precisely what scientists are trying to figure out. It’s rather well established that there is a link between tinnitus and depressive disorders. The notion that one tends to come with the other has been born out by numerous studies. But it’s far 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 contend that depression might be something of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, to put it a different way: they observed that depression is frequently a more noticeable first sign than tinnitus. It’s possible, as a result, that we simply notice depression first. This study suggests that if someone has been diagnosed with depression, it’s probably a good idea for them to have a tinnitus screening.
Shared pathopsychology might be the base cause of both disorders and the two are commonly “comorbid”. Which is just a fancy way of saying that tinnitus and depression may have some shared causes, and that’s why they manifest together so frequently.
Needless to say, more research is necessary to determine what that common cause, if it exists, truly is. Because it’s also feasible that, in certain cases, tinnitus causes 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. Currently, the relationships are just too unclear to put too much confidence behind any one theory.
If I Suffer From Tinnitus Will I Develop Depression?
Major depressive disorders can occur from many causes and this is one reason why it’s tough to pin down a cause and effect relationship. There can also be a number of reasons for tinnitus to happen. Tinnitus normally will cause a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Occasionally, the sound varies (a thump, a whump, various other noises), but the root concept is the same. Noise damage over a long period of time is normally the cause of chronic tinnitus that is probably permanent.
But there can be more serious causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, have been known to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And tinnitus can happen sometimes with no evident cause.
So will you develop depression if you suffer from chronic tinnitus? The variety of causes of tinnitus can make that challenging to know. But what seems fairly clear is that if you don’t treat your tinnitus, your risks will probably increase. The reason may be as follows:
- Tinnitus can make doing certain things you love, such as reading, challenging.
- You may end up socially isolating yourself because the buzzing and ringing causes you to have trouble with interpersonal communication.
- For many individuals it can be an aggravating and exhausting undertaking to attempt to cope with the noises of tinnitus that won’t go away.
Managing 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 respite from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is designed to help you disregard the sounds) to masking devices (which are made to drown out the noise of your tinnitus), the correct treatment can help you decrease your symptoms and stay focused on the joy in your life.
Treatment can move your tinnitus into the background, to put it in a different way. That means social situations will be easier to keep up with. You will have a much easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite tunes. And your life will have a lot less disturbance.
That won’t eliminate depression in all cases. But managing tinnitus can help based upon research.
Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Apparent
Medical professionals are becoming more interested in keeping your hearing healthy because of this.
At this stage, we’re still in a chicken and egg situation when it comes to depression and tinnitus, but we’re pretty certain that the two are linked. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression began first, managing your tinnitus can help considerably. And that’s why this insight is important.