Depression Has a Link to Hearing Loss

Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

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

When it comes to the link between depression and tinnitus, that’s exactly what researchers are trying to figure out. That there is a link between tinnitus and major depressive disorders is rather well established. Many studies have borne out the notion that one tends to accompany the other. But the cause-and-effect relationship is, well, more difficult to determine.

Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders appears to say that a precursor to tinnitus may be depression. Or, to put it a different way: they discovered that depression is often a more noticeable first symptom than tinnitus. It’s likely, as a result, that we just notice depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers suggest that anybody who undergoes screening for depression may also want to be examined for tinnitus.

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

Of course, more research is required to determine what that common cause, if there is one, truly is. Because it’s also feasible that, in certain circumstances, tinnitus triggers depression; and in other cases, the opposite is true or they happen simultaneously for different reasons. We can’t, at this point, have much confidence in any one theory because we simply don’t know enough about what the link is.

Will I Get Depression if I Have Tinnitus?

Major depressive disorders can develop from many causes and this is one reason why it’s hard to recognize a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also develop for many reasons. In many cases, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing in your ears. In some cases with tinnitus, you may hear other noises such as a thumping or beating. Normally, chronic tinnitus, the kind 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 severe causes. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, have been recognized to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And sometimes, tinnitus can even develop for no discernible reason whatsoever.

So will you experience depression if you suffer from chronic tinnitus? The variety of causes of tinnitus can make that tough to predict. But it is clear that your chances will rise if you neglect your tinnitus. The reason may be the following:

  • You may wind up socially isolating yourself because the ringing and buzzing causes you to have trouble with interpersonal communication.
  • For some people it can be an annoying and exhausting undertaking to try and cope with the sounds of tinnitus that won’t go away.
  • Tinnitus can make doing some things you love, such as reading, challenging.

Managing Your Tinnitus

Fortunately, the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression teaches us that we might be able to get relief from one by treating the other. You can minimize your symptoms and stay centered on the positive facets of your life by addressing your tinnitus utilizing treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (helping you disregard the sounds) or masking devices (created to drown out the noise).

To put it another way, treatment can help your tinnitus diminish to the background. That means social activities will be easier to keep up with. You will have an easier time following your favorite TV show or listening to your favorite music. And you’ll find very little interruption to your life.

Taking these measures won’t always prevent depression. But research suggests that treating tinnitus can help.

Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Clear

That’s why medical professionals are beginning to take a more robust interest in keeping your hearing in good condition.

We’re pretty certain that depression and tinnitus are connected although we’re not certain exactly what the relationship is. Whichever one began first, managing 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.