Depression Has a Connection to Hearing Loss

Woman with tinnitus depressed on her couch.

It’s a scenario of which one came first the chicken or the egg. You have some ringing in your ears. And it’s causing you to feel pretty low. Or, perhaps you were feeling somewhat depressed before the ringing began. You’re just not sure which started first.

When it comes to the link between tinnitus and depression, that’s precisely what experts are attempting to find out. That there is a connection between tinnitus and major depressive conditions is pretty well established. The idea that one often comes with the other has been well established by many studies. But it’s much more difficult to comprehend 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 may be depression. Or, to put it another way: They found that you can sometimes recognize a problem with depression before tinnitus becomes obvious. It’s possible, 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 tested for tinnitus.

Shared pathopsychology might be at the root of both disorders and the two are frequently “comorbid”. In other words, there might be some common causes between tinnitus and depression which would cause them to occur together.

But in order to identify what the common cause is, more research will be necessary. Because it’s also possible that, in certain cases, tinnitus causes depression; in other circumstances the reverse is true and in yet others, the two occur at the same time but aren’t linked at all. Right now, the relationships are just too murky to put too much confidence behind any one theory.

If I Have Tinnitus Will I Develop Depression?

Major depressive disorders can occur from numerous causes and this is one reason it’s hard to recognize a cause and effect relationship. Tinnitus can also develop for a number of reasons. Tinnitus normally will cause a ringing or buzzing in your ears. Occasionally, the sound varies (a thump, a whump, a variety of other noises), but the underlying idea is the same. Normally, chronic tinnitus, the kind that doesn’t go away after a short period of time, is the result of noise damage over a long period of time.

But there can be more severe causes for chronic tinnitus. Traumatic brain injuries, as an example, have been recognized to cause permanent ringing in the ears. And tinnitus can occur sometimes with no recognizable cause.

So if you suffer from chronic tinnitus, will you develop depression? The variety of causes of tinnitus can make that difficult to predict. But it is clear that your chances increase if you neglect your tinnitus. The following reasons may help sort it out:

  • It can be a difficulty to do things you enjoy, such as reading when you have tinnitus.
  • The sound of the tinnitus, and the fact that it won’t go away on its own, can be a challenging and frustrating experience for many.
  • You may end up socially isolating yourself because the ringing and buzzing causes you to have difficulty with interpersonal communication.

Dealing With Your Tinnitus

What the comorbidity of tinnitus and depression tells us, thankfully, is that by treating the tinnitus we might be able to give some relief from the depression (and, possibly, vice versa). You can minimize your symptoms and stay centered 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 diminish to the background. That means you’ll be capable of keeping up more easily with social situations. You will have an easier time following your favorite TV program or listening to your favorite music. And you’ll find very little interruption to your life.

That won’t prevent depression in all cases. But research reveals that treating tinnitus can help.

Remember, Cause And Effect Isn’t Apparent

That’s why medical professionals are starting to take a stronger interest in keeping your hearing healthy.

At this point, 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 started first, managing tinnitus can have a significant positive effect. And that’s the crucial 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.