Depression is often coincident with chronic tinnitus, and several studies have suggested that antidepressant medications may play a role in relieving tinnitus as well as depression. We conducted a retrospective study of the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) by patients at a large tinnitus clinic to assess the effects of these antidepressants on tinnitus severity. We focused on a subgroup of 30 patients with depression who had begun taking SSRI medication after the onset of their tinnitus; these patients had also been treated with psychotherapy by a mental health clinician. At a mean follow-up of 20.6 months, only 10 of the 30 patients reported that they were still experiencing major depression. Moreover, this group as a whole demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in tinnitus symptoms as reflected by a reduction in their Tinnitus Severity Index scores. We conclude that SSRIs represent one category of tools that can be used to help patients with severe tinnitus and depression. Like all antidepressant medications, SSRIs should be used in conjunction with psychotherapy to facilitate patient improvement.
ASJC Scopus subject areas