Depression Has a Link to Hearing Loss

Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario. You have some ringing in your ears. And it’s causing you to feel pretty low. Or maybe before the ringing started you were already feeling a little depressed. You’re just not sure which started first.

That’s precisely what experts are trying to figure out regarding the connection between tinnitus and depression. That there is a connection between tinnitus and major depressive conditions is rather well established. The notion that one tends to come with the other has been born out by numerous studies. But it’s much more challenging to understand 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, said a different way: they found that depression is often a more noticeable first symptom than tinnitus. Consequently, it’s feasible 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.

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

But in order to determine what the common cause is, more research will be needed. Because it’s also feasible that, in some situations, tinnitus results in depression; and in other circumstances, the reverse is true or they appear simultaneously for different reasons. Right now, the relationships are just too murky to put too much confidence in any one theory.

If I Have Tinnitus Will I Develop Depression?

Major depressive conditions can develop from many causes and this is one reason it’s difficult to recognize a cause and effect relationship. There can also be numerous reasons for tinnitus to manifest. In most cases, tinnitus manifests as a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Sometimes with tinnitus, you will hear other noises such as 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 serious causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, as an example, have been recognized to cause long lasting ringing in the ears. And at times, tinnitus can even develop for no apparent reason at all.

So will you develop depression if you have chronic tinnitus? The wide variety of causes behind tinnitus can make that challenging to predict. But what seems quite clear is that if you don’t treat your tinnitus, your chances will probably increase. The reason might be as follows:

  • The ringing and buzzing can make social communication more difficult, which can cause you to socially isolate yourself.
  • Tinnitus can make doing some things you enjoy, like reading, challenging.
  • The noises of the tinnitus, and the fact that it doesn’t go away on its own, can be a challenging and aggravating experience for some.

Dealing With Your Tinnitus

Luckily, 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 overlook the sounds) to masking devices (which are made to drown out the noise of your tinnitus), the correct treatment can help you reduce your symptoms and stay focused on the joy in your life.

Treatment can push your tinnitus into the background, to put it in a different way. That means you’ll be capable of keeping up more easily with social situations. You will have a much easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite music. And your life will have a lot less interruption.

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

Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Apparent

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

At this juncture, we’re still in a chicken and egg scenario when it comes to depression and tinnitus, but we’re pretty certain that the two are related. Whichever one began first, treating 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.