It’s a situation of which one came first the chicken or the egg. There’s a ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down about it. Or, maybe you were feeling somewhat depressed before that ringing started. Which one came first is simply not certain.
That’s exactly what scientists are attempting to figure out when it comes to the connection between depression and tinnitus. It’s pretty well established that there is a connection between depressive disorders and tinnitus. The idea that one often comes with the other has been born out by many studies. 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 seems to say that a precursor to tinnitus might be depression. Or, said another way: They found that you can at times identify a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. As a result, it’s feasible that we simply observe the depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anyone who undergoes screening for depression might also want to be tested for tinnitus.
Common pathopsychology might 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 appear together so often.
But in order to identify what the common cause is, more research will be necessary. Because it’s also feasible that, in some circumstances, tinnitus triggers depression; in other cases the opposite is true and in yet others, the two happen 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 connection is.
If I Have Tinnitus Will I Experience Depression?
In part, cause and effect is difficult to pin down because major depressive conditions can happen for a wide variety of reasons. There can also be numerous reasons for tinnitus to manifest. In many cases, tinnitus presents as a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Sometimes with tinnitus, you may hear other noises like 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. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, have been recognized to cause long lasting ringing in the ears. And in some cases, tinnitus can even develop for no discernible reason whatsoever.
So if you suffer from chronic tinnitus, will you experience depression? The answer is a challenging one to predict because of the range of causes behind tinnitus. But it is clear that your chances will rise if you ignore your tinnitus. The following reasons may help make sense of it:
- The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away by itself, can be a daunting and frustrating experience for some.
- It can be a difficulty to do things you love, like reading when you suffer from tinnitus.
- You might end up socially separating yourself because the ringing and buzzing causes you to have problems with social communication.
Treating Your Tinnitus
What the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus tells us, thankfully, is that by managing the tinnitus we may be able to offer some relief from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is designed to help you ignore the sounds) to masking devices (which are created to drown out the noise of your tinnitus), the right treatment can help you lessen your symptoms and stay focused on the joy in your life.
Treatment can push your tinnitus into the background, to put it another way. That means social situations will be easier to keep up with. You won’t miss out on your favorite music or have a tough time following your favorite TV show. And you’ll find very little interruption to your life.
Taking these steps won’t always stop depression. But research reveals that managing tinnitus can help.
Don’t Forget, It’s Still Unclear What The Cause And Effect is
That’s why medical professionals are beginning to take a stronger interest in keeping your hearing in good condition.
At this juncture, we’re still in a chicken and egg scenario with regards to depression and tinnitus, but we’re pretty confident that the two are connected. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression started first, managing your tinnitus can help significantly. And that’s why this insight is important.