It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario. You have a ringing in your ears. And it’s causing you to feel pretty low. Or perhaps before the ringing started you were already feeling a little depressed. You’re just not sure which started first.
That’s exactly what experts are trying to find out when it comes to the link between tinnitus and depression. That there is a connection between tinnitus and major depressive conditions is rather well established. The notion that one often comes with the other has been born out by numerous studies. But it’s far more difficult to comprehend the exact cause and effect relationship.
Does Depression Cause Tinnitus?
One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders appears to contend that depression may be something of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, to put it another way: they discovered that depression is commonly a more noticeable first symptom than tinnitus. It’s possible, as a result, that we just notice depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers indicate that anyone who goes through a screening for depression may also want to be examined for tinnitus.
The idea is that depression and tinnitus may share a common pathopsychology and be frequently “comorbid”. In other words, there could 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 some situations, it might be possible that depression is actually caused by tinnitus; in other cases the opposite is true and in yet others, the two occur at the same time but aren’t related at all. Right now, the relationships are just too murky to put too much confidence behind any one theory.
If I Suffer From Tinnitus Will I Develop Depression?
Major depressive conditions can occur from numerous causes and this is one reason it’s difficult to recognize a cause and effect relationship. There can also be numerous reasons for tinnitus to occur. Tinnitus will normally cause a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Occasionally with tinnitus, you will hear other noises including a thumping or beating. In most cases, chronic tinnitus, the kind that doesn’t go away after a short period of time, is caused by noise damage over a long period of time.
But there can be more severe causes for chronic tinnitus. Permanent ringing in the ears is sometimes caused by traumatic brain injury for example. And in some cases, tinnitus can even happen for no perceptible reason at all.
So if you suffer from chronic tinnitus, will you develop depression? The answer is a difficult one to predict because of the range of causes behind tinnitus. But it is evident that your risks increase if you neglect your tinnitus. The reason may be as follows:
- The noises of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away by itself, can be a challenging and aggravating experience for some.
- You might wind up socially separating yourself because the ringing and buzzing causes you to have difficulty with interpersonal communication.
- Tinnitus can make doing some things you love, such as reading, difficult.
Treating Your Tinnitus
Luckily, the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression teaches us that we might be able to find relief from one by treating the other. 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 correct treatment can help you lessen your symptoms and stay centered on the things in life that bring you joy.
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 will have an easier time following your favorite TV show or listening to your favorite tunes. And you’ll find very little interruption to your life.
Taking these measures won’t always stop depression. But treating tinnitus can help according to research.
Don’t Forget, It’s Still Unclear 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.
At this juncture, we’re still in a chicken and egg scenario 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, treating your tinnitus can help significantly. And that’s the important takeaway.