Depression Has a Connection to Hearing Loss

Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a scenario of which came first the chicken or the egg. There’s a ringing in your ears. And you’re feeling down about it. Or perhaps before the ringing began you were already feeling somewhat depressed. Which one came first is just not certain.

That’s exactly what experts are trying to find out regarding the connection between tinnitus and depression. It’s pretty well established that there is a connection between tinnitus and depressive disorders. The notion that one often comes with the other has been well established by many studies. But the cause-and-effect connection is, well, more difficult to discern.

Does Depression Cause Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to contend that depression might be something of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, to put it another way: they observed that depression is frequently a more noticeable first symptom than tinnitus. Consequently, it’s feasible that we simply notice the depression first. This study indicates that if someone has been diagnosed with depression, it’s probably a good idea for them to have a tinnitus screening.

The idea is that depression and tinnitus might share a common pathopsychology and be commonly “comorbid”. In other words, there might be some shared causes between depression and tinnitus which would cause them to appear together.

But in order to figure out what the common cause is, more research will be required. Because it’s also possible that, in certain situations, tinnitus causes depression; in other situations the opposite is true and in yet others, the two happen at the same time but aren’t linked at all. We can’t, at this point, have much confidence in any one theory because we just don’t know enough about what the link is.

If I Have Tinnitus Will I Experience Depression?

Major depressive disorders can occur from many causes and this is one reason why it’s tough to recognize a cause and effect relationship. There can also be quite a few reasons for tinnitus to occur. Tinnitus normally will cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Sometimes, the sound changes (a thump, a whump, a variety of other noises), but the root idea is the same. Noise damage over a long period of time is normally the cause of chronic tinnitus that is probably permanent.

But chronic tinnitus can have more acute causes. Traumatic brain injuries, as an example, have been known to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And in some cases, tinnitus can even develop for no tangible reason whatsoever.

So will you develop depression if you suffer from chronic tinnitus? The answer is a challenging one to predict because of the wide array of causes behind tinnitus. But it is evident that your chances will rise if you neglect your tinnitus. The reason may be as follows:

  • Tinnitus can make doing certain things you love, like reading, difficult.
  • The buzzing and ringing can make interpersonal communication more difficult, which can lead you to socially separate yourself.
  • For some people it can be a frustrating and draining undertaking to attempt to deal with the sounds of tinnitus that won’t go away.

Treating Your Tinnitus

Luckily, the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus teaches us that we might be able to get 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 created to drown out the noise of your tinnitus), the right treatment can help you lessen your symptoms and stay focused on the things in life that bring you joy.

Treatment can move your tinnitus into the background, to put it in a different way. That means social activities will be easier to stay on top of. You will have a much easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite music. And you’ll notice very little disturbance to your life.

Taking these steps won’t always prevent depression. But managing tinnitus can help based upon research.

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

That’s why medical professionals are starting to take a more robust interest in keeping your hearing healthy.

We’re pretty certain that depression and tinnitus are connected although we’re not sure exactly what the relationship is. Whichever one began first, treating tinnitus can have a considerable positive effect. And that’s why this insight 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.