It’s a scenario of which one came first the chicken or the egg. There’s a ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down because of it. Or perhaps before the ringing began you were already feeling a little depressed. You’re just not sure which happened first.
That’s exactly what scientists are trying to find out when it comes to the link between tinnitus and depression. It’s pretty well established that there is a connection between depressive disorders and tinnitus. The idea that one tends to come with the other has been well established by numerous studies. But the cause-and-effect relationship is, well, more difficult to discern.
Does Depression Cause Tinnitus?
One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to contend that a precursor to tinnitus may be depression. Or, said another way: They found that you can at times recognize a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. It’s possible, as a result, that we simply notice depression first. This study indicates that if someone has been diagnosed with depression, it’s definitely a good idea for them to have a tinnitus screening.
Shared pathopsychology could be at the root of both disorders and the two are frequently “comorbid”. In other words, there could be some shared causes between tinnitus and depression which would cause them to occur together.
Clearly, more research is required to determine what that shared cause, if there is one, truly is. Because, in some situations, it might be possible that depression is actually caused by tinnitus; and in other situations, the reverse is true or they occur concurrently for different reasons. We can’t, right now, have much confidence in any one theory because we just don’t know enough about what the connection is.
If I Have Tinnitus Will I Experience Depression?
Major depressive disorders can occur from many causes and this is one reason it’s difficult to recognize a cause and effect relationship. There can also be quite a few reasons for tinnitus to happen. In most cases, tinnitus presents as a ringing or buzzing in your ears. In some cases with tinnitus, you will hear other noises such as a thumping or beating. In most cases, chronic tinnitus, the type that doesn’t go away after a couple of hours or days, is the result of noise damage over a long period of time.
But there can be more serious causes for chronic tinnitus. Long lasting ringing in the ears is sometimes caused by traumatic brain injury for example. And at times, tinnitus can even happen for no discernible reason at all.
So will you experience depression if you have chronic tinnitus? The answer is a complicated one to predict because of the range of causes for tinnitus. But it is evident that your chances increase if you ignore your tinnitus. The following reasons might help sort it out:
- You might wind up socially isolating yourself because the ringing and buzzing causes you to have difficulty with social communication.
- Tinnitus can make doing some things you love, such as reading, difficult.
- The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away on its own, can be a daunting and frustrating experience for some.
Treating Your Tinnitus
What the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression clue us into, thankfully, is that by managing the tinnitus we may be able to offer some respite from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). You can decrease your symptoms and stay centered on the positive aspects of your life by managing your tinnitus utilizing treatments including cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you disregard the sounds) or masking devices (created to drown out the noise).
To put it in a different way, treatment can help your tinnitus diminish to the background. That means you’ll be able to keep up more easily with social activities. You will have a much easier time following your favorite TV show or listening to your favorite tunes. And your life will have a lot less disturbance.
That won’t stop depression in all situations. But research reveals that treating tinnitus can help.
Don’t Forget, It’s Still Not Clear What The Cause And Effect is
Medical professionals are becoming more focused on keeping your hearing healthy because of this.
We’re pretty confident that depression and tinnitus are connected although we’re not sure exactly what the connection is. Whichever one began first, treating tinnitus can have a significant positive effect. And that’s why this insight is important.