Depression Has a Connection to Hearing Loss

Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a chicken-or-egg scenario. You have a ringing in your ears. And it’s causing you to feel pretty low. Or, maybe you were feeling a little depressed before that ringing started. Which one came first is just not clear.

When it comes to the connection between tinnitus and depression, that’s precisely what experts are trying to figure out. That there is a connection between tinnitus and major depressive disorders is rather well established. Many studies have shown that one tends to accompany the other. 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 appears to say that depression may be somewhat of a precursor to tinnitus. Or, said another way: they observed that depression is often a more noticeable first symptom than tinnitus. It’s possible, 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 tested for tinnitus.

The idea is that tinnitus and depression might share a common pathopsychology and be commonly “comorbid”. Which is just a fancy way of saying that depression and tinnitus may have some common causes, and that’s 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 possible that, in some circumstances, tinnitus results in depression; in other circumstances the opposite is true and in yet others, the two occur at the same time but aren’t related at all. Right now, the connections are just too murky to put too much confidence behind any one theory.

If I Suffer From Tinnitus Will I Develop Depression?

Major depressive conditions can occur from numerous causes and this is one reason why it’s difficult to recognize a cause and effect relationship. There can also be numerous reasons for tinnitus to occur. In many cases, tinnitus presents as a buzzing or ringing in your ears. At times, the sound varies (a thump, a whump, a variety of other noises), but the main concept is the same. Usually, chronic tinnitus, the type that doesn’t go away after a couple of hours or days, is the result of noise damage over a long period of time.

But chronic tinnitus can have more acute causes. Permanent ringing in the ears can be caused by traumatic brain injury for instance. And tinnitus can occur sometimes with no apparent cause.

So will you experience depression if you suffer from chronic tinnitus? The wide range of causes of tinnitus can make that tough to know. But it is clear that your chances will rise if you neglect your tinnitus. The following reasons might help sort it out:

  • The ringing and buzzing can make interpersonal communication harder, which can lead you to socially separate yourself.
  • Tinnitus can make doing certain things you take pleasure in, like reading, difficult.
  • For some individuals it can be an annoying and exhausting undertaking to try and cope with the noises of tinnitus that won’t go away.

Dealing With Your Tinnitus

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

Treatment can move your tinnitus into the background, to put it another way. That means social situations will be easier to stay on top of. You won’t lose out on your favorite music or have a hard time following your favorite TV show. And you’ll find very little interruption to your life.

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

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

Medical professionals are becoming more serious about keeping your hearing healthy because of this.

At this stage, we’re still in a chicken and egg situation when it comes to tinnitus and depression, but we’re pretty confident that the two are related. Whether the ringing in your ears or the depression began first, treating your tinnitus can help considerably. 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.