Depression Has a Connection to Hearing Loss

Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario. You have some ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down because of it. Or, it’s possible you were feeling a bit depressed before that ringing started. You’re just not sure which happened first.

That’s precisely what scientists are attempting to find out when it comes to the connection between depression and tinnitus. That there is a connection between tinnitus and major depressive disorders is pretty well established. Study after study has borne out the notion that one tends to accompany the other. But it’s far more challenging to comprehend the exact cause and effect relationship.

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 a different way: They found that you can sometimes recognize a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. As a result, it’s feasible that we simply notice the 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 checked for tinnitus.

Common pathopsychology may be the base cause 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 why they appear together so often.

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

Will I Experience Depression if I Suffer From Tinnitus?

Major depressive disorders can develop from many causes and this is one reason it’s hard to recognize a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also occur for numerous reasons. In many cases, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Sometimes with tinnitus, you may hear other noises like a thumping or beating. In most cases, chronic tinnitus, the type that doesn’t go away after a short period of time, is the result of noise damage over a long period of time.

But there can be more severe causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, have been known to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And sometimes, tinnitus can even develop for no tangible reason whatsoever.

So will you experience depression if you suffer from chronic tinnitus? The wide range of causes behind tinnitus can make that tough to know. But what seems quite clear is that if you don’t treat your tinnitus, your risks may increase. The reason might be the following:

  • The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away on its own, can be a challenging and aggravating experience for many.
  • The ringing and buzzing can make interpersonal communication harder, which can cause you to socially isolate yourself.
  • Tinnitus can make doing certain things you take pleasure in, like reading, challenging.

Managing Your Tinnitus

Luckily, the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus teaches us that we might be able to find respite from one by managing the other. You can reduce your symptoms and stay focused on the positive aspects of your life by addressing your tinnitus making use of treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you disregard the sounds) or masking devices (created to drown out the noise).

Treatment can move your tinnitus into the background, to put it in a different way. Meaning that you’ll be able to keep up more easily with social situations. You won’t lose out on your favorite music or have a tough time following your favorite TV program. And your life will have a lot less disturbance.

That won’t eliminate depression in all situations. But managing tinnitus can help based upon research.

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 healthy.

We’re pretty certain that depression and tinnitus are connected even though we’re not certain exactly what the relationship is. Whichever one began first, treating tinnitus can have a significant 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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