Depression Has a Link to Hearing Loss

Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a chicken-or-egg situation. You have a ringing in your ears. And it’s causing you to feel pretty low. Or, perhaps you were feeling somewhat depressed before the ringing started. Which one came first is simply not certain.

When it comes to the link between depression and tinnitus, that’s precisely what researchers are attempting to find out. It’s fairly well established that there is a link between depressive disorders and tinnitus. The notion that one often comes with the other has been well established by numerous studies. But it’s much more challenging to recognize the exact cause and effect relationship.

Is Depression Caused by Tinnitus?

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to contend that a precursor to tinnitus may be depression. Or, to put it another way: They discovered that you can at times recognize a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. It’s likely, as a result, that we just notice depression first. In the publication of their study, the researchers indicate that anyone who goes through a screening for depression might also want to be examined for tinnitus.

Shared pathopsychology may be the base cause of both disorders and the two are commonly “comorbid”. Which is just a technical way of saying that depression and tinnitus may have some common causes, and that’s why they show up together so frequently.

Clearly, more research is required to figure out what that common cause, if there is one, actually is. Because it’s also feasible that, in some circumstances, tinnitus triggers depression; in other circumstances the reverse is true and in yet others, the two happen at the same time but aren’t linked at all. We can’t, right now, have much confidence in any one theory because we simply don’t know enough about what the link is.

If I Have Tinnitus Will I Experience Depression?

In part, cause and effect is difficult to pin down because major depressive conditions can happen for a large number of reasons. There can also be numerous reasons for tinnitus to occur. Tinnitus will usually cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Occasionally with tinnitus, you will hear other sounds including a thumping or beating. Noise damage over a long period of time is normally the cause of chronic tinnitus that won’t go away.

But there can be more severe causes for chronic tinnitus. Long lasting ringing in the ears can be caused by traumatic brain injury for instance. And tinnitus can occur sometimes with no evident cause.

So if you suffer from chronic tinnitus, will you develop depression? The variety of causes behind tinnitus can make that challenging to know. But what seems pretty clear is that if you don’t treat your tinnitus, your risks will probably increase. The following reasons may help sort it out:

  • Tinnitus can make doing some things you enjoy, like reading, challenging.
  • For some people it can be a frustrating and exhausting task to attempt to deal with the sounds of tinnitus that won’t go away.
  • You might end up socially separating yourself because the buzzing and ringing causes you to have trouble with social communication.

Treating Your Tinnitus

Fortunately, the comorbidity of depression and tinnitus teaches us that we may be able to get relief from one by treating the other. From cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is created to help you ignore the sounds) to masking devices (which are created to drown out the noise of your tinnitus), the proper treatment can help you decrease your symptoms and stay focused on the things in life that bring you joy.

To put it in a different way, treatment can help your tinnitus fade to the background. That means social situations will be easier to stay on top of. You won’t lose out on your favorite music or have a tough time following your favorite TV show. And your life will have a lot less interruption.

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

Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Clear

Medical professionals are becoming more serious about keeping your hearing healthy due to this.

We’re pretty confident that tinnitus and depression are related even though we’re not sure exactly what the relationship is. Whichever one began first, managing 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.