Depression Has a Connection to Hearing Loss

Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

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 because of it. Or, maybe you were feeling somewhat depressed before the ringing started. Which one came first is just not clear.

When it comes to the connection between depression and tinnitus, that’s exactly what experts are trying to find out. That there is a connection between tinnitus and major depressive conditions is fairly well established. Many studies have shown that one tends to accompany the other. 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 contend that depression might be something of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, to put it another way: They noticed that you can sometimes recognize a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes apparent. Consequently, it’s possible that we simply notice 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.

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

But in order to figure out what the common cause is, more research will be required. Because it’s also feasible that, in some situations, tinnitus results in depression; and in other circumstances, the reverse is true or they occur concurrently for different reasons. Currently, the relationships are just too unclear to put too much confidence behind any one theory.

Will I Experience Depression if I Have Tinnitus?

In part, cause and effect is difficult to pin down because major depressive conditions can happen for a wide variety of reasons. Tinnitus can also develop for many reasons. In most cases, tinnitus manifests as a buzzing or ringing in your ears. In some cases with tinnitus, you will hear other sounds including a thumping or beating. In most cases, chronic tinnitus, the type that doesn’t go away after a short period of time, is caused by noise damage over a long period of time.

But chronic tinnitus can have more serious causes. Traumatic brain injuries, as an example, have been recognized to cause long lasting ringing in the ears. And sometimes, tinnitus can even happen for no perceptible reason at all.

So if you suffer from chronic tinnitus, will you experience depression? The wide variety of causes behind tinnitus can make that difficult to predict. But it is clear that your risks increase if you ignore your tinnitus. The reason may be as follows:

  • For many individuals it can be a frustrating and draining undertaking to attempt to deal with the sounds of tinnitus that won’t go away.
  • It can be a difficulty to do things you enjoy, like reading when you suffer from tinnitus.
  • The ringing and buzzing can make interpersonal communication more difficult, which can cause you to socially separate yourself.

Dealing With Your Tinnitus

What the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression clue us into, luckily, is that by treating the tinnitus we might be able to give some relief from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). You can decrease your symptoms and stay focused on the positive aspects of your life by addressing your tinnitus utilizing treatments including cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you disregard 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 will have an easier time following your favorite TV show or listening to your favorite music. And your life will have much less disturbance.

That won’t eliminate depression in all situations. But research suggests that treating tinnitus can help.

Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Clear

Medical professionals are becoming more focused on keeping your hearing healthy due to this.

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