It’s a situation of which came first the chicken or the egg. There’s a 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. Which one came first is just not clear.
That’s precisely what experts are attempting to figure out regarding the link between depression and tinnitus. It’s pretty well established that there is a connection between tinnitus and depressive disorders. The notion that one often comes with the other has been born out by many studies. But the cause-and-effect relationship is, well, more difficult to determine.
Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?
One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to say that a precursor to tinnitus may be depression. Or, said another way: they observed that depression is frequently a more visible first symptom than tinnitus. Consequently, it’s possible that we simply notice the depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anyone who has a screening for depression might also want to be checked for tinnitus.
Shared pathopsychology could be at the root of both disorders and the two are frequently “comorbid”. In other words, there may be some common 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, in certain situations, it might be possible that depression is actually brought about by tinnitus; in other cases the opposite is true and in yet others, the two appear at the same time but aren’t related at all. We can’t, at this point, have much confidence in any one theory because we simply don’t know enough about what the link is.
If I Have Tinnitus Will I Experience Depression?
In part, cause and effect is difficult to understand because major depressive conditions can develop for a large number of reasons. Tinnitus can also develop for a number of reasons. In most cases, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Occasionally with tinnitus, you will hear other sounds like 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 serious causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, as an example, have been known to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And tinnitus can happen sometimes with no apparent cause.
So will you develop depression if you have chronic tinnitus? The answer is a complicated one to predict because of the variety of causes behind tinnitus. But it is evident that your chances will rise if you ignore your tinnitus. The reason may be as follows:
- You may wind up socially separating yourself because the buzzing and ringing causes you to have difficulty with interpersonal communication.
- The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away on its own, can be a daunting and aggravating experience for some.
- It can be a challenge to do things you like, like reading when you have tinnitus.
Treating Your Tinnitus
What the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression clue us into, luckily, is that by treating the tinnitus we might be able to give some respite from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). You can reduce your symptoms and stay centered on the positive aspects of your life by dealing with your tinnitus utilizing treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you overlook the sounds) or masking devices (created to drown out the noise).
Treatment can move your tinnitus into the background, to put it another way. That means social activities will be easier to keep up with. You won’t miss out on your favorite music or have a difficult time following your favorite TV program. And your life will have much less disturbance.
Taking these steps won’t always stop depression. But managing tinnitus can help based upon research.
Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Apparent
That’s why medical professionals are beginning to take a stronger interest in keeping your hearing in good condition.
We’re pretty certain that tinnitus and depression are linked even though we’re not sure exactly what the relationship is. Whichever one began first, treating tinnitus can have a significant positive effect. And that’s the crucial takeaway.