The Link Between Depression And Tinnitus


It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario. You have some 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 depression and tinnitus, that’s precisely what scientists are attempting to figure out. 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 born out by many 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 seems to contend that a precursor to tinnitus might be depression. Or, stated a different way: They found that you can at times identify an issue with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. It’s possible, as a result, that we just notice depression first. This study suggests that if somebody has been diagnosed with depression, it’s definitely a good idea for them to have a tinnitus screening.

The theory is that depression and tinnitus may share a common pathopsychology and be frequently “comorbid”. Which is just a technical way of saying that tinnitus and depression might have some shared causes, and that’s the reason why they appear together so often.

But in order to figure out what the common cause is, more research will be needed. Because it’s also possible that, in some cases, tinnitus triggers depression; and in other situations, the opposite is true or they occur simultaneously for different reasons. Currently, the connections are just too unclear to put too much confidence behind any one theory.

Will I Experience Depression if I Suffer From Tinnitus?

In part, cause and effect is hard to pin down because major depressive disorder can happen for a wide variety of reasons. There can also be a number of reasons for tinnitus to happen. Tinnitus will usually cause a buzzing or ringing in your ears. Sometimes with tinnitus, you will hear other sounds including a thumping or beating. Usually, chronic tinnitus, the kind 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 severe causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, have been known to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And tinnitus can happen sometimes with no recognizable cause.

So if you have chronic tinnitus, will you develop depression? The answer is a difficult one to predict because of the variety of causes behind tinnitus. But what seems fairly clear is that if you leave your tinnitus untreated, your risks will probably increase. The reason may be the following:

  • The noises of the tinnitus, and the fact that it won’t go away by itself, can be a challenging and frustrating experience for many.
  • It can be a difficulty to do things you enjoy, such as reading when you have tinnitus.
  • You may wind up socially separating yourself because the buzzing and ringing causes you to have trouble with interpersonal communication.

Treating Your Tinnitus

What the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression clue us into, fortunately, is that by managing the tinnitus we may be able to offer some respite from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). You can reduce your symptoms and stay centered on the positive facets of your life by dealing with your tinnitus using treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you ignore the sounds) or masking devices (created to drown out the noise).

To put it in a different way, treatment can help your tinnitus fade to the background. That means you’ll be able to keep up more easily with social situations. You won’t miss out on your favorite music or have a difficult time following your favorite TV show. And your life will have a lot less disturbance.

That won’t prevent depression in all cases. But treating tinnitus can help based upon research.

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

Medical professionals are becoming more interested in keeping your hearing healthy due to this.

At this stage, we’re still in a chicken and egg situation when it comes to depression and tinnitus, but we’re pretty certain that the two are linked. Whichever one started first, treating tinnitus can have a considerable positive effect. And that’s why this information is important.

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.