Depression Has a Link to Hearing Loss

Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a chicken-or-egg situation. There’s a ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down about it. Or maybe before the ringing started you were already feeling a bit depressed. You’re just not sure which started first.

When it comes to the connection between tinnitus and depression, that’s precisely what researchers are trying to find out. It’s pretty well established that there is a link between depressive disorders and tinnitus. The idea that one tends to come with the other has been born out by numerous studies. But it’s much 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 say that depression might be something of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, to put it another way: they discovered that depression is frequently a more noticeable first sign than tinnitus. It’s possible, as a result, that we just notice 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 may be at the root of both disorders and the two are frequently “comorbid”. Which is just a fancy way of saying that tinnitus and depression may have some shared causes, and that’s the reason why they show up together so often.

But in order to determine what the common cause is, more research will be required. Because it’s also feasible that, in some situations, tinnitus causes depression; in other situations the reverse is true and in yet others, the two appear at the same time but aren’t related at all. Currently, the connections are just too murky to put too much confidence in any one theory.

Will I Experience Depression if I Have Tinnitus?

Major depressive conditions can occur from numerous causes and this is one reason why it’s difficult to recognize a cause and effect relationship. There can also be quite a few reasons for tinnitus to happen. In many cases, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing in your ears. In some cases 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 won’t go away.

But chronic tinnitus can have more acute causes. Permanent ringing in the ears can be caused by traumatic brain injury for instance. And sometimes, tinnitus can even develop for no apparent reason whatsoever.

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 what seems quite clear is that if you don’t treat your tinnitus, your risks will probably increase. The reason might be as follows:

  • The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it won’t go away by itself, can be a daunting and frustrating experience for many.
  • It can be a difficulty to do things you enjoy, like reading when you suffer from tinnitus.
  • You might end up socially separating yourself because the buzzing and ringing causes you to have problems with social communication.

Treating Your Tinnitus

What the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus tells us, luckily, is that by treating the tinnitus we might 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 correct treatment can help you lessen your symptoms and stay centered on the joy in your life.

To put it in a different way, treatment can help your tinnitus fade to the background. That means social activities will be easier to stay on top of. 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.

That won’t eliminate depression in all cases. But managing tinnitus can help according to research.

Don’t Forget, It’s Still Not Clear What The Cause And Effect is

Medical professionals are becoming more serious about keeping your hearing healthy because of this.

We’re pretty certain that tinnitus and depression are related even though we’re not certain exactly what the relationship is. Whichever one started first, managing tinnitus can have a considerable positive effect. And that’s the important takeaway.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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