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Can Antidepressants Cause Tinnitus (Ringing In The Ears)?

Many people who take antidepressants notice ringing in their ears or “tinnitus.” This tinnitus is usually temporary, and can be a result of changes in levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. In other cases, the tinnitus may emerge as a result of an ototoxic reaction that a person has to a specific antidepressant. Ototoxicity is a medical term used to characterize inner ear damage resulting from pharmacological treatments.

Ototoxic reactions are typically rare and only occur in a minority of individuals treated with antidepressants. They may occur after long-term treatment or as the result of an interaction with another medication. In any event, if you are experiencing ringing in your ear and believe that it may be a result of your antidepressant medication, it is best to seek immediate medical attention – preferably from an ENT specialist.

Additionally, it should be noted that in some cases antidepressants can cause hypersensitivity to sounds and make people more likely to notice preexisting tinnitus. It is usually difficult to pinpoint antidepressants as a specific cause of tinnitus, but if you suspect that your ears began to ring after treatment with a certain antidepressant medication, it’s always best to trust your intuition and seek help.

Can antidepressants cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears)?

Yes, they can. Not everyone will experience tinnitus or ringing in the ears while on antidepressants. In fact, only a small minority of individuals will end up with this problem. Some estimate that only approximately 1-2% of all patients treated with SSRI antidepressants could develop tinnitus as a result of treatment – others speculate that the probability is even lower. Despite the fact that antidepressant-induced tinnitus is seldom reported, this should not discount any cases in which this is the case.

Factors that influence antidepressants causing tinnitus:

It should be speculated that various factors can determine whether someone develops tinnitus as a result of antidepressant therapy. These include things like: the drug someone took, their dosage, and the individual. It should be noted that 100 people may take high dosages of the same drug and of this group maybe only 2 will develop tinnitus.

1. Individual Variation

The biggest determining factor of whether someone develops tinnitus resulting from an antidepressant medication is that of individual variation. Many people turn to antidepressants to alleviate their depression and other forms of mood disorders. However, of these individuals that use antidepressants, only a small minority will go on to develop ringing in the ears. Genetic factors and individual reaction to the medication is thought to influence whether a person will experience tinnitus.

2. The drug

Certain drugs may be more likely to cause tinnitus than others. In particular, many people have reported cases of SSRI induced tinnitus. This could be a result of SSRIs being the most widely prescribed class of antidepressants throughout the United States. There isn’t really any telling whether older drugs like MAOIs, tricyclic, and atypical antidepressants could pose equal threat to that of SSRIs and SNRIs in regards to causing tinnitus.

3. Dosage

In most cases, the greater the dosage of the drug you are taking, the greater the ototoxic risk and/or potential for tinnitus. At lower doses, the drug is having less of an effect on your overall physiology and poses less of a risk for adverse reactions. At significantly high doses, you may be disturbing natural processes within your physiology, and the chemicals introduced into your system may result in tinnitus.

4. Interactions

There’s no telling whether another drug you may be taking could interact with an antidepressant and cause ringing in the ears. Although usually one medication is the culprit for this condition, there’s no telling whether multiple medications may interact to contribute to causing a person’s ears to ring and/or ototoxicity.

5. Time Span

In cases of antidepressant-induced tinnitus, there tends to be individuals that experienced it after a short-term treatment, and those who developed ringing in the ears over a long-term. In both cases, the condition should be regarded as serious.

  • Short-term: Some people notice their ears start to ring after just a few days or weeks after taking an antidepressant. In these cases, it is best to talk to your doctor about discontinuing and/or switching to another medication. Ringing in the ears may signify an adverse ototoxic reaction.
  • Long-term: Long-term treatment with an antidepressant medication tends to result in dosage increases and a greater likelihood that the drug is having more of an impact on your body’s natural processes. If you noticed that tinnitus developed over a long-term, it could be related to increases in dosage. When you take any drug for a long-term, you are running increased risk of unwanted effects.

6. Withdrawal

It is documented that during benzodiazepine withdrawal people experience tinnitus. During antidepressant withdrawal, many people report hyperacusis or hypersensitivity of visual and auditory processes. Loud noises may become amplified, vision may become temporarily blurry, and people may notice ringing in their ears. In cases of withdrawal, the tinnitus may be related to significant drops in serotonin levels upon discontinuation. Additionally during withdrawal, it may be easier to notice a preexisting “ringing” in cases which tinnitus was already present.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3357564/

How antidepressants may cause tinnitus…

Below are a few ways in which antidepressants are thought to cause tinnitus.  Some speculate that the antidepressants may make people more relaxed and less sensitive to the effects of loud noise, thus resulting in unprotected exposure to elevated decibel levels.  Others believe that certain dosages of the drugs could have ototoxic effects, while others hypothesize that changes in neurotransmitter levels (e.g. serotonin) may result in temporary ringing in the ears.

  • Desensitization to loud sounds: Antidepressants may make some individuals more relaxed and reduce their level of arousal. As a result of lower arousal, a person may not be as sensitive to loud music or sounds as they should be. This may result in them listening to music at abnormally high decibel levels through headphones, in their car, and/or around the house. Additionally, people may not take as many precautions as they should at concerts and loud sporting events – leading to increased susceptibility of noise-induced hearing loss.
  • Ototoxicity: Pharmacological drugs can cause hearing loss as a result of damage to the inner ear. Although antidepressants are not classified as “ototoxic,” it doesn’t mean that they can’t have ototoxic effects in some people. This is why certain individuals end up with hearing issues and/or ringing in the ears long after discontinuing antidepressant medications.
  • Neurotransmitter changes: Antidepressants change neurotransmitter levels, particularly that of serotonin. There’s no telling how a specific person will react to a particular antidepressant until they take it. Since everyone has different responses to antidepressant drugs based on their genetics and physiology, the neurotransmitter changes that a drug makes may lead to temporary tinnitus.

Antidepressants likely to cause tinnitus

Some would speculate that older antidepressants such as MAOIs and tricyclic antidepressants would be more likely to cause tinnitus than newer SSRIs and SNRIs. However, based on reports of vertigo, a symptom closely related to changes in hearing and tinnitus, older drugs are less likely to cause vertigo. This may suggest that older medications are actually less likely to cause tinnitus, despite carrying more overall side effects than newer medications.

With that said, it should be noted that reports of tinnitus from older antidepressants are less likely these days simply because they are seldom prescribed. Most doctors will use other classes of medications for depression instead of prescribing an MAOI or tricyclic drug. It is believed that since more people are taking newer medications, there is a greater chance that tinnitus will be reported by those who are on an SSRI or SNRI.

This isn’t to say that older medications cannot cause ringing in the ears, because they likely can. However, since ringing in the ears is only reported by 1-2% of patients that take antidepressants, and very few people are still taking MAOIs or tricyclic medications, tinnitus is seldom reported with older drugs.

  • SSRIs / SNRIs: Many people have reported cases of SSRI-induced tinnitus – there are threads across the internet dedicated to this particular topic. Even tinnitus as a result of SSRI and SNRI usage is pretty rare. Those who develop ringing in the ears after taking a selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor are in the minority.
  • Atypical antidepressants: Some atypical antidepressants like Viibryd are considered newer, while others like Remeron are older. Each of these drugs tends to have unique properties, so it cannot be generalized that all atypical antidepressants cause tinnitus.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: These drugs are essentially precursors to SSRIs. They tend to affect the reuptake of serotonin and in some cases norepinephrine. These are no more or less likely than other classes to cause tinnitus.
  • MAOIs: The Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors are an old class of medications that tend to react with foods containing tyramine. Since people can have potentially fatal reactions to eating tyramine-containing foods, these drugs are seldom prescribed. These drugs are no more likely than any other class to cause ringing in the ears.

It would be interesting for someone to conduct a study and determine which class of antidepressant medications and/or psychotropic medications are most likely to cause tinnitus. It would also be interesting to determine whether the tinnitus is permanent and caused by ototoxicity or whether it is temporary and caused by changes in neurotransmission. Many would be interesting in also getting more specific and doing a direct comparison of drugs within classes such as the likelihood of Paxil to cause tinnitus vs. Lexapro. It may also be beneficial to understand whether there is a correlation between drug dosage and tinnitus and/or whether length of time taking a medication can influence development of tinnitus.

The Irony: Antidepressants are used to treat tinnitus

If you review the profile for a number of antidepressant medications, many are used off-label for treating tinnitus and/or the anxiety that tends to accompany it. Upon closer examination, you may see that the medication being prescribed for tinnitus, can actually cause tinnitus in an unknown percentage of users. Typically the amount of people who benefit from an antidepressant to help cope with tinnitus significantly outweighs the number of individuals who experience antidepressant-induced tinnitus.

Most doctors are not aware of the fact that these medications can and do cause tinnitus in certain individuals. Whether this tinnitus is a cause for concern in every individual is debatable. Some people may experience the tinnitus as a result of neurochemical changes from the antidepressant treatment. Others may experience tinnitus as a result of ototoxicity from taking a certain antidepressant medication at a high dose for an extended period of time.

It is nearly impossible to pinpoint the number of cases of tinnitus resulting from antidepressant usage. Additionally, it should be speculated that many people may begin experiencing tinnitus and not even think that their antidepressant medication may have contributed to its development. Therefore it can be assumed that a significant number of cases of antidepressant-induced tinnitus may go unreported.

The problem: The antidepressant may not always help people with tinnitus or ringing in the ears and if it does work, it may not work forever.  Additionally, many people are unable to tolerate antidepressant side effects such as sexual dysfunction and weight gain from these medications. In many cases, other anti anxiety medications may be a better fit for those with tinnitus.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22972065

How antidepressants treat tinnitus

There are a couple of ways that antidepressants can actually treat tinnitus. The first being desensitization by raising serotonin levels. Many people become desensitized to various types of anxiety when their serotonin levels increase. This results in less preoccupation and dwelling on ringing in the ears.

  • Desensitization: The increase in serotonin resulting from various antidepressants is thought to improve tinnitus. People can become hypersensitive to the ringing in the ears and/or panic when they first notice it. This increases a person’s arousal and can cause them to become highly sensitized to the noise. Every time there is silence and the ringing becomes noticeable, it may trigger further panic. Antidepressants help by desensitizing a person to the sound that they are hearing.
  • Reduces anxiety: The biggest benefit of taking antidepressants is that they reduce a person’s anxiety. Someone with tinnitus may fear that they are losing their hearing completely and the tone may drive them crazy. A person may feel anxious or trapped because there is currently no good treatment or cure for this condition. Antidepressants help reduce a person’s anxiety and panic that many people experience with tinnitus. This allows people to function without constantly thinking about and/or dreading the ringing.
  • Serotonin: The neurotransmitter serotonin has been specifically linked to ringing in the ears. Although increasing it won’t help every case of tinnitus, for many people, it does help fade or drown out the sound. Differences in serotonin blood levels have been observed between those with tinnitus and those without it.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10753413

What to do if antidepressants caused tinnitus (ringing in the ears)?

If you notice that your ears start to ring after taking an antidepressant medication, do some self-analysis and make sure that the ringing isn’t caused by wax and wasn’t caused by exposure to loud noise. Assuming that you are sure the antidepressant drug is the cause of your tinnitus, the first thing you should do is book an appointment with an ENT specialist.

1. Book an appointment with an ENT specialist: An ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) specialist will be able to conduct a hearing test, check for blockages in the ear canal (such as wax), and rule out other causes for your ear ringing. Additionally, it is important to discuss the potential that your antidepressant could have caused an ototoxic reaction. If you suspect ototoxicity from your medication, it may be recommended to immediately discontinue treatment.

2. Take your hearing very serious: If you experience tinnitus, it should be taken serious as this may be a sign of a larger issue such as hearing loss. If you ignore the ringing in the ears and don’t do anything about it, it may become permanent. Unfortunately most people are not aware that any hearing concerns and/or tinnitus must be taken seriously.

3. Consider all possible medications: In addition to the antidepressant that you are taking, are you on any other drugs? Could the ringing in your ears have been caused by another drug and/or an interaction between medications? Assuming you are only on an antidepressant and no other medications, you can rule out other causes. If you are on other medications though, these may be equally (or more) liable for causing tinnitus.

4. Consider withdrawal: If you are sure that your antidepressant is the cause of your ear ringing, you should probably withdraw from it. If it is having an ototoxic effect on your ears, it’s best to discontinue as soon as possible to avoid further damage. It is never recommended to suddenly discontinue antidepressant treatment, but if it is causing any sort of hearing issues, this may be your best bet.

5. Take vitamins: You may want to consider taking vitamins to help with any tinnitus. Some people take multivitamins and specific vitamin formulas. There is some evidence that the combination of Vitamins A, C, and E plus magnesium can help protect hearing – but more research is necessary. You may want to conduct some research and determine whether supplementation of various vitamins may help with your tinnitus.

6. Realize that the tinnitus may subside: In some cases, antidepressant-induced tinnitus can be permanent or long-lasting. For other individuals, this condition will last several days, weeks, or months before it finally clears up. The inner ear and neurotransmitter levels may take awhile before they regain proper functioning and the ringing subsides. In the meantime, do your best to hope that your hearing stays protected.

7. Consider other causes of tinnitus

Before assuming that your ear-ringing was caused by an antidepressant, it is important to consider some other possibilities. There are plenty of other causes for tinnitus besides a medication – these causes should always be considered.

  • Noise-induced hearing loss: In people that have lost their hearing from loud-noise exposure (such as attending too many rock concerts or operating loud machinery without hearing protection), tinnitus is common. If you listen to music at high levels without protection, your hearing will deteriorate over time. Hearing loss is often accompanied by ringing in the ears.
  • Ear wax buildup: If you have considerable build-up of earwax, it may impair your ability to properly hear. When the ear canal is clogged with wax, it prevents accurate sound perception and may contribute to ringing in the ears.
  • Viral infection: If you had some sort of viral infection, it can cause temporary tinnitus and/or permanent changes in hearing. In most cases, viruses may temporarily change our ability to perceive sounds, but as our body fights off the virus, the ringing subsides.
  • Allergies: Do you currently have bad allergies such as a runny nose or congestion? If you have bad allergies, temporary changes in sinus pressure, and fluid shifts between the inner ear and sinuses may contribute to temporary tinnitus.
  • Neurological damage: People with neurological damage such as that from multiple sclerosis can develop tinnitus. If you have any form of neurological damage, it is important to consider that as a cause of the ringing in your ears.
  • Oxidative stress: Free radicals can essentially cause damage to your ear and lead you to experience tinnitus. If your body is not producing an adequate antioxidative response to free radicals, oxidative stress can lead to tinnitus.
  • Emotional stress: There have been reports of emotional stress causing tinnitus. Usually emotional stress can make us hyperaroused or hypersensitive to noises and more likely to tune into preexisting cases of tinnitus. Emotional stress is known to cause changes in neurotransmission and brain activity – leading to ringing in the ears.

8. Corticosteroid treatment: If you suspect that your medication was ototoxic, a doctor may suggest temporary corticosteroid treatment in attempt to help heal the inner ear. This treatment may be highly uncomfortable, but is thought to protect and help repair some damage that a medication may have caused to your ears.

Final thoughts on antidepressants causing tinnitus…

For most people, antidepressants are not associated with any major tinnitus or ringing in the ears. However, just because they don’t cause tinnitus in some people does not mean that they can’t in others. Although it is rare for an antidepressant medication to cause tinnitus, it should not be dismissed or ignored as a possible culprit for this condition in certain individuals.

Antidepressants are not regarded by the medical community as being universally ototoxic, but some speculate that they may have ototoxic reactions in certain individuals. Factors for influencing potential ototoxic reactions include: the drug, your dosage, duration for which you took it, and other individual factor such as whether you are on other medications. Some hypothesize that taking high dosages for extended periods of time (i.e. years) may result in ototoxicity – which could cause tinnitus.

It is estimated that only 1-2% of individuals taking antidepressants will experience tinnitus as a side effect. If this is experienced, it may be recommended to discontinue the drug as this could signify ototoxicity and lead to hearing loss. If you begin experiencing tinnitus while using an antidepressant, immediately contact a professional and express concern for your hearing and well-being.

Have you experienced ringing in your ears following usage of an antidepressant? Did your ringing eventually subside or has it been an ongoing problem? Do you really think it was caused by the medication that you took? If so, feel free to share your experience in the comments section below – it may help someone else who is dealing with a similar situation.

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{ 65 comments… add one }
  • Bessie September 22, 2018, 6:50 pm

    I started taking 25mg zoloft 2 days ago and already have tinnitus.

  • Andreia May 11, 2018, 3:09 pm

    Hi, everyone. After I started taking duloxetine, my left ear started to ring, that happened in about three weeks. I did see tinnitus listed as a side effect of this drug but I wonder: has anyone been through the same thing? Is it permanent or it should go away with time?

    I am really worried with this, because no doctor can tell me if this is a side effect and it will eventually disappear over time. Am I the only person in the world who felt this? If someone could answer me I would appreciate that. Thank you all and best wishes.

    • Deb July 9, 2018, 12:40 am

      Yep, I take Cymbalta (Duloxetine) and by the second day of starting the drug, the ringing of the ears began. I had the same problem with doctors doubting me, even though I saw that it was a possible side effect, although rare.

      I have been on the medication for 2 years now and just discontinued it a few days ago. I pray that the ringing will stop. My doctor told me that if it is caused by the medication, the ringing will stop when the medication is discontinued.

      But the jury is out as far as I am concerned. I will comment again if it does indeed stop. I sure hope it does!

      • Andreia August 6, 2018, 8:57 pm

        Did it go away Deb? Hope it’s everything going right with you.

  • Andreia April 25, 2018, 7:11 pm

    Hi. Has anyone else experienced ringing in the ears with an antidepressant? And if you did, how long did it take for this drug-induced tinnitus to go away? I would appreciate it if someone would answer me… Thank you, best wishes for you all.

    • Deborah Campbell May 7, 2018, 5:39 pm

      I had tinnitus when I started Wellbutrin and it never went away until I had ECT treatment. Just started trintellix and it has come back. Beginning to think it is whatever neurotransmitter it is affecting.

      • Chuck J. July 10, 2018, 2:14 am

        Hi, did you stop the Trintellix? If so, did the tinnitus go away?

  • Brandy March 25, 2018, 2:51 am

    After reading some of these comments, I’d rather be depressed and a little moody than DEAF!!!

  • Patti January 22, 2018, 12:06 am

    I have had tinnitus ever since getting cut off cold turkey from Amitriptyline by medicare, than stopped to soon off of Cymbalta because of sweats, ringing is driving me crazy!! So loud… Doctor says there are no side effects!!! Ignores my requests for help, ready to just quit!!

  • Marie November 28, 2017, 10:02 pm

    I developed tinnitus after going off prozac. It only bothers me in the morning when I wake up and at night before bed – when then house is completely quiet. I’m back on prozac after being off of it for a year. I still have the tinnitus.

    I tried pycnogenol, but it made me break out which isn’t surprising given its pine bark and I have seasonal allergies. I have taken nicotinamide riboside for months, but it didn’t make the tinnitus go away.

    Prozac really helps me in so many ways, but I feel like my hearing may have been permanently affected by it. I also eliminated dairy for many months, but that didn’t help either.

  • Adrian March 26, 2017, 3:43 pm

    I didn’t see the signs! My tinnitus triggered by Risperidone (took this for 5 weeks until tinnitus when I ceased it) has gone terribly wrong with Mirtazapine (took this to help sleep after tinnitus appeared). In 6 weeks of taking this (30mg) tinnitus has raised in frequency and I have hearing damage (everything above 8KHz I can’t hear) and now tinnitus is high pitch piercing ears sound that hurts!

    I used to be fine before all this (could hear up to 16 KHz!). I sensed an electrical type of sound added when starting mirtazapine but I didn’t pay attention to it and now I regret it as that was the sign that I should have stopped it! I guess myself and Luke we seem to share a specific genetic thing that messed us up for life.

    I should have stopped all psych medicine when first time tinnitus appeared, most likely it was my capital mistake. I am not sure how long I can resist with this. BTW, check on FDA the outcome of the patients that have shown deafness from Mirtazapine!

  • Luke March 8, 2017, 6:39 pm

    I took Mirtazapine and it resulted in hearing loss and tinnitus. The doctor told me my problems were anxiety despite me screaming about it. It’s too late now, can’t hear anything above 12k, high frequency hearing loss and severe high pitched piercing tinnitus. I wasn’t suicidal before, I sure am now… And just to add, I now also have balance issues, affecting my eye movements causing double vision, oscillopsia and nystagmus. I’m screwed for life… Thanks doctor!

    • Des March 13, 2017, 2:19 pm

      Hi Luke, How much mirtazapine were you on and how long for? I had similar issues.

      • Adrian March 26, 2017, 3:48 pm

        Do you still have these issues? Have they improved in time? I have them all but the eye problems (for now).

  • Cathal January 24, 2017, 11:30 am

    I got tinnitus about 7 years ago. After year 2 I got used to it and as time passed I barely noticed it. I could always hear it if I wanted to but generally the worst of it was gone. Anyway I just started taking Bupropion 8 days ago. First a 150mg dose daily then upped to 2 x 150g daily and that’s when I noticed my tinnitus is back with a vengeance.

    The only thing stopping me from going crazy with it is the fact I’ve got over it before, I mean it never went away but just got better over time. But now it’s back bad as ever. I will now stop Bupropion. Here’s hoping it will calm the tinnitus again.

    It’s just a pity I have to put up with this crap again. I’ve only been on Bupropion 9 days so hopefully it will subside a bit quicker. It took me 2 years to mentally get over the tinnitus. I am scared but I know from the last time it’s worse to let it bother you.

  • Mr. C January 16, 2017, 4:52 pm

    VA put me on clonazepam. After a few years, horrible ringing in my ears. I have been off clonazepam for nearly a year and still intense, crazy ringing. These drugs are terrible. Don’t take them!

  • Dani December 13, 2016, 11:55 pm

    Thank you for this information. I had a breakdown this past summer and was hospitalized. For the first time in my life, I was put on antidepressants. I’m 53. Three weeks later, I began having very loud and intrusive ringing in both ears, all day, nonstop. I am now on the 4th type of antidepressant, starting today.

    I have had a difficult time getting Dr’s to believe me, and they have all minimized this side effect. They suggest I should just live with it. They’ve changed my meds for other reasons – either side effects or because I was not responding and coming out of the suicidal depression I experienced when I was first diagnosed.

    Sometimes I have felt I was losing my mind because of this ringing in my ears. I can’t concentrate and frequently have bad headaches. I really hope this new antidepressant resolves the ear ringing. I don’t know how much more I can take.

  • Theresa Whittaker September 5, 2016, 2:31 pm

    Hello, my doctor put me on Celexa 10mg for Anxiety for a week. Then increased it to 20mg. Since I been on the 20mg I have constant ringing of the ears 24/7. Did not experience it on 10mg.

  • Anne August 20, 2016, 3:34 pm

    Hello, I am on day 6 of taking generic Wellbutrin 150mg per day. This is my first time ever taking an antidepressant. The ringing in my ears started last night, along with clogged ears and pressure in my head. I called the pharmacist today because my doctors office is closed, he said if it gets worse to stop taking it.

    After reading all the comments online I do plan to immediately stop. I’m so upset because I thought I had finally found another piece of the puzzle to help me recover from depression, only to learn it’s doing me more damage. It’s beyond frustrating. Thanks everyone for your comments.

    • souh December 4, 2017, 9:42 am

      Hi Anne, May I ask you if it has cleared up since? Thanks!

  • Tom W August 14, 2016, 4:10 pm

    I have suffered with bouts of depression and tinnitus probably all my life, since I grew up in a physically abusive home. Of course when I am depressed everything bothers me more. I have tried various anti-depressants, some increased tinnitus, all gave me side effects that I did not like. What I have found helps is avoiding foods like dairy, which for some reason increase my tinnitus, and excessive salt, which I think raises my blood pressure and increases tinnitus.

    I believe I am helped by taking pycnogenol and nicotinamide riboside, along with magnesium b12 and for depression SAMe, st. john’s wort and l-tryptophan. Exercise is very important for depression and tinnitus. Some of these stories have broken my heart, I pray for God’s mercy upon all who suffer from depression anxiety and tinnitus, which somehow seem to be all related.

  • Linda July 4, 2016, 3:49 am

    I started taking venlafaxine at 37.5 mg. Increased to 75 mg. However, if I missed a dose I would get very ill. Asked my doctor to start getting me off of this med because I actually had to take a day off of work. I can’t have that. Went back to the 37.5. Now I am hearing this swoosh noise. I really think I need the meds but now am afraid to take them and afraid not to.

    • Steve Dixon July 20, 2016, 5:59 am

      I have just come of this drug and now have a lot of internal head noise. Tinnitus and whooshing noises :( Did yours clear? Thanks, Steve

  • melanon68 June 28, 2016, 11:59 am

    Prescribed 300mg/day bupropion/Wellbutrin/Zyban for major depression (Apr 2015), since I tried fluoxetine/Prozac in the past and couldn’t stand it emotionally. Bupropion works well, but I noticed ringing in my ears about a day after starting it. I put it down to the quietness of the ward and just thought it was pre-existing. Wasn’t until a couple of days later that I reread the side effects booklet and saw it there.

    I told my doctor about the ringing, but said I preferred that to the depression. If I had known it might be permanent I may have changed my mind. I think it’s gotten worse over time. A year after starting bupropion I decided to get my hearing checked and I now have a diagnosis of moderate hearing loss. I have also had times when I have been very sensitive to noise while on it.

    I’m currently unsure which is the worse prospect “dealing with withdrawal + probably more depression, and then having to find something else” OR “risking even more hearing loss”.

  • Dave June 6, 2016, 10:27 pm

    Doctor prescribed Nortriptyline for a side effect of chemo. Took five one night for the first time and woke up a hour later with a loud buzzing and squealing in my head along with voices. I thought the alarm clock had gone off and some talk radio station was playing. Unfortunately the noise is still there and as loud as anyone talking to me. Doctor insists that the Nortriptyline had nothing to do with the noise.

  • Naomi June 4, 2016, 12:25 pm

    I started taking Aropax… 10 days later I woke up with tinnitus. Had ENT apt etc hearing test and of course they all said the same… Oh no it couldn’t be the medication!!! I know it was because nothing else changed – no other possible cause could be responsible… Two years later it is still there. I suppose I have a lot more good days now… I may be getting used to it… I have spent so much time, energy and money trying to get rid of it… Now I have to accept it. What else can I do? I pray for all you suffering with this. May God strengthen you so you will be able to bear it.

  • Andrew April 12, 2016, 10:40 pm

    Been on Wellbutrin XL for 300 mg/day for four years now. Tinnitus has steadily been getting worse for the past year, and I never bothered to check whether it was related to the drug until today. Nobody’s fault but my own really, the doctor did give me the official info on all the side effects, and of course I didn’t bother to read it.

    I will stop immediately of course, but I imagine that any damage is permanent by now. Moral of the story: if you’re a musician, audiophile, or audio professional, BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT TAKING ANY DRUGS LIKE THIS. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

  • JR April 12, 2016, 5:29 pm

    Hello: After a few years of therapy and a persistent depression, I started on 20 mg. of Cymbalta 6 weeks ago. This is the first anti-depressant I have ever tried in my life (I am 61). I responded to the medication immediately and began to feel so much better. Unfortunately, after about 2 weeks, the tinnitus began.

    I was so disappointed, because I knew it had to be related to the medication, as nothing else had changed in my life (diet, other medication, environment, etc.). It got worse and worse, so I went back to my doctor, who acted surprised and skeptical that it was related. I have never been able to take aspirin, as it always causes ear ringing almost immediately; so I figure there has to be something in the Cymbalta that is affecting me the same way.

    My doctor wanted me to stay on it longer to see if it got better (it got worse), and he said he would change me to Lexapro if I wanted to get off of the Cymbalta. After another 10 days of increasing ringing, I took myself off the Cymbalta and am in a holding pattern, trying to “detox” from it and hoping that the ear ringing will stop. So, far, it has not.

    I am very discouraged about trying another SSRI, based on what I have read. I think it is likely that it will have the same effect. The anti-depressant route may not work for me. I can’t risk my hearing and live with the ear ringing. It’s just changing one problem for another. My next step is to speak to a psychiatrist–someone who is much more well versed in medications–to get their opinion.

  • Mike April 1, 2016, 3:59 am

    I have been taking Fluoxetine 20mg for about 5 or 6 weeks for stress. I used to experience mild tinnitus occasionally but now it’s daily, loud and wakes me up during the night. The penny just dropped that it’s most probably the Fluoxetine, so I’m going to stop taking it and hope that any damage isn’t permanent.

    • Andreia April 25, 2018, 7:18 pm

      Hi Mike. Did your tinnitus go away with time? Thank you and best wishes.

  • Aziz Harbi March 24, 2016, 1:50 am

    This is the 5th year for me in using paroxetine, I had problem with mood/depression, so I was given a wellbutrin XL 150mg/day for 4 days then 300mg/day. After being on 300 by a few days I got tinnitus. I called my pharmacist and he said you would be much better to speak with the prescriber since he/she is doing the (prescribing / and getting comment from patient) I did that and my doctor told me to decrease the dose to 150mg /day. We’ll see whats going to happen.

  • muriel reid March 4, 2016, 9:40 pm

    Hi, I took antidepressants 5 years ago whilst having anxiety after my parents died. I was give citalopram at the time, and within a number of weeks I realized I had ringing in one ear which quickly went into both ears. I stopped the medication immediately, but the tinnitus never went away.

    You do habituate however. Today, after dealing with the tinnitus with the use of noise generators (excellent), and purple noise on repeat at night on my iPod, I hardly ever notice it. The reason I am now on this site is that I would like to find an antidepressant which is safe from tinnitus. I am afraid of making my tinnitus worse, having now got on top of it.

    Does anyone know if St John’s Wart is safe to use? Lots of luck out there for those with tinnitus… it definitely gets easier to live with over time, so don’t give up. I too was devastated for a very long time when I took it, but it does get less noticeable and manageable over time.

  • Bill February 20, 2016, 6:42 pm

    My tinnitus started after the first citalopram pill. Doctor had no advice in fact was obstinate about it with me. Stayed on 3 weeks and discontinued. Ringing has never stopped. Have told other doctors about this since… Amazing the lack of knowledge and level of disbelief I get from them. Ears ring terribly now for 5 years…

  • Miss silver December 29, 2015, 12:36 pm

    I took Prozac for twenty five years, for severe OCD (from age 2) and being a sensitive person made me unable to deal with this tough world. It helped a lot. Then tinnitus meant I had to stop them. I had a very serious breakdown without meds, couldn’t cope at all and was on my own with no support. I was offered Zoloft, another SSRI.

    The sheet looked encouraging; better than prozac for my specific needs. However it did also list ringing in the ears as a possible side effect. If I had taken it, would it have made mine worse? Of course I could just stop taking it… but by then its too late. Tinnitus does not go away. It is already bad; if it got worse life would be unbearable and I could not stand it. So no thanks.

    So… nothing out there that definitely does NOT have this risk? That sucks. I am in a living nightmare, Dante’s inferno has nothing on my head right now. And I’m left alone to bear it, day after day. CBT just increased my anxiety so much it cracked me up; exposure therapy nearly finished me off for good… serious traumatic stress. I could not stand that.

    I do all the mindfulness, yoga, relaxation etc; but my brain is hardwired and stuck in a loop, and now thanks to prozac I also have to the challenge of trying to get to sleep with a loud ringing /screeching in my ears! I can only sleep when it’s silent, so my life has been made far worse than the OCD ever was alone. Make sure you don’t take SSRI’s or any other drug unless you absolutely cannot live otherwise. Once you have this side effect.. it is for life.

    • susan July 16, 2016, 8:46 pm

      I was prescribed Lexapro 10 mg and was very resistant to taking it and started with 2.5 mg on the first day, and 5 mg for the next 3 days… by day 4 I could feel a hissing in my right ear. I stopped the medication and do not want to take this or any antidepressant ever again. In asking about side effects before taking the lexapro my psychiatrist made no mention of tinnitus being a possible side effect.

      I spoke to a pharmacist who also seemed unaware, yet I google it and see all these people who have experienced tinnitus when taking antidepressants. I feel very angry, it is bad enough dealing with depression and then having something like this on top of that. I pray it is not permanent, I can’t believe even such a small dose only taken for such a short time would result in this… These pills are poison, bless those they do work for and who do not suffer side effects but I am done with them.

  • Victor December 25, 2015, 10:07 pm

    Hello, my name is vitor, I am Brazilian. I had a mild labyrinthitis crisis, anxiety took me to the use of Lexapro 10 mg and other medicine against labyrinthitis. After a few weeks, when the drug against labyrinthitis was over, I noticed the onset of tinnitus. I am very concerned about the permanence of this.

  • Tanya October 20, 2015, 12:03 pm

    I began taking bupropion 150mgorning and 150mg at night 3 days into it I noticed a ringing when I was reading. The next day I didn’t notice it until I went to bed. It’s very bothersome so I looked it up and I believe I had a reaction of such a high dose from the beginning of treatment. It’s now 7 days and I am not taking it any longer. Talked to my pharmacist and he suggested to edit 5-7 days for medication to leave my system and if it’s still there go see an EEN specialist. I’m very worried its permanent. I pray it’s not.

  • Scott October 8, 2015, 11:30 pm

    Is there any way to prove or disprove that that the tinnitus could be an ototoxic reaction? If this is temporary, I can deal with it. But, if an ototoxic reaction is going on I’d obviously want to quit taking it. I went to an ENT and they didn’t even mention ototoxic. I learned about it on here.

  • Harry Miller October 6, 2015, 7:52 pm

    I have recently taken Sertraline for a total of seventeen days, but stopped because it was causing excessive urination at night, severely disturbing my sleep. A couple of days after stopping I noticed a high pitched ringing in my left ear when I tried to sleep. I took a couple of paracetamol and a sleeping tablet and was able to sleep. The following day I put a wax earplug in my ear and this stopped the ringing. I am hoping that this will only be a temporary measure and that the ringing will disappear when my serotonin levels return to normal.

    • Angela April 3, 2016, 6:34 am

      Hi, similar story here. Has yours stopped?

    • Brandy March 25, 2018, 2:27 am

      Hello, I am on a Latuda (20mg) and Sertraline mix, and I’ve been experiencing an ultrasound like sound in my left ear ever since I started taking it. Mostly when I sleep.

      I missed one day of taking my meds and the sound went away. I am planning on talking to my doctor to see if this sound is normal or not, because I don’t hear ringing. It sounds like a train or an ultrasound only in my left ear though.

  • mike October 3, 2015, 9:53 pm

    I’m a sporty male professional who got prescribed Mirtazapin (Remeron) for depressive affect. After taking 30mg. (1 tablet) got a very strong tinnitus after 24hrs and will discontinue the medication due to this.

    • Ole November 11, 2016, 4:57 am

      Did it get better..? Cipralex, Day 2. Insane tinnitus, can’t sleep and will probably have thousand panic attacks along the day, got tinnitus on day one also. Hoping that if I just stop now it’ll go the f-ck away.

  • Claudia September 6, 2015, 5:23 pm

    I was on Wellbutrin for years with no adverse effects for tinnitus however when I began to get transcranial stimulation (TMS) while still on Wellbutrin my ears began to ring. Now my tinnitus is incessant and I have to work very hard on my anxiety and depression resulting from this noise. I read somewhere that Wellbutrin in combination with TMS is very ototoxic – obviously I’m proof of that. I should have been purged of Wellbutrin prior to beginning TMS, I later learned. Thoughts anyone?

    • GLOOM September 6, 2015, 10:23 pm

      Tough to say whether the tinnitus was caused more by the WB, TMS, or the combination. It is plausible that there was a synergistic ototoxic effect from WB + TMS. The TMS could’ve also facilitated hyperexcitability in auditory regions of the brain, contributing to tinnitus. Regardless of the cause, hope you are able to recover and/or find peace of mind.

  • Julie May 27, 2015, 12:08 pm

    Six weeks into taking Zoloft I developed tinnitus. I was not experiencing any positive effects, so I quit the medication (with doctor’s blessing). Six months later, I still have constant ringing. But “oh, no, zoloft wouldn’t be the cause of that,” my doctor says. I had made NO OTHER changes in diet or meds at that time. I know it was the zoloft for me.

  • Shadow May 6, 2015, 1:10 pm

    I took prozac for over twenty five years. I ended up on 80mg because it was not working as well. I stayed on 80mg for years. I developed tinnitus, but had no idea it was the drug, so I remained on it for years. My hearing is worse and I have vertigo. It has ruined my life. It’s not as if one can sue the company! I fear I will lose my hearing, as it getting worse. So unfair!

    • Eggs May 30, 2016, 12:15 pm

      Actually, yes, you can. You need to find enough people like you with the same injury. If you can do that, you are well on your way to a well-pooled lawsuit, and you will probably find support from orgs opposed to big pharm. Unfortunately you might also have to be able to match the dosage, time span, from person to person etc. but don’t give up. There is hope!!

  • John April 27, 2015, 5:19 pm

    Was started on Wellbutrin 15 or 20 years ago. When tinnitus presented itself I had not digested all the fine print warnings, and assuming it was a temporary side effect I did not call my physician immediately as advised. When I did at 2 weeks my physician immediately discontinued the W. The tinnitus went down in volume but remains a minor irritant to this day. Love classical music, and high pitched tones increase its apparent volume so it becomes even more audible over the music.

  • Linda T March 26, 2015, 2:39 am

    I have been on Zoloft 200 mg for over 14 years now. I started hearing air going through my ears. It has not stopped. The sound goes on for 24 hours a day. I had a hearing test at my ENT’s office recently. I had initially saw him for swollen Parotid Glands. I was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss. My doctor never mentioned that the Zoloft could cause the Tinnitus. He stated that aging is a big factor. I am 64. I pray that the noise lessens or goes away completely. I think the swollen glands can be causing the Tinnitus, although, my doctor disagrees. There is no known treatment. I pray that you all wake up one day, and the Tinnitus is gone!

    • Dee February 9, 2016, 7:30 pm

      I have been taking 200 mg of Zoloft, a day, for the past 15+ years. Last year, I had developed tinnitus (24/7), in my LEFT ear, which sounds like hissing air, slowly escaping a balloon. I was seen by an ENT specialist, given a hearing test, and was told I had moderate hearing loss. As it turned out, the hearing test revealed that my hearing was worse in my right ear (the ear that doesn’t hiss). Nevertheless, I was told that I was a perfect candidate for a hearing aid. The professionals will tell you, that with time, you will learn to block the noise out. More research needs to be done on tinnitus, as this is a handicap to the many people who have it.

      • Brandy March 25, 2018, 2:39 am

        I am on a generic Zoloft (sertraline 100mg) and latuda 20mg, and I’ve been experiencing the an ultrasound sound (a train chugging) only in my left ear. I’ve only been taking for the past 3 days and I can hear it louder in my sleep.

        I have not been to see an ENT doc. I did not take any meds today and the sound went away. I am only 35 and I do not want to lose my hearing. I am going to talk to my psychologist and see what can be done.

  • Steve Markos March 7, 2015, 11:36 pm

    I took the generic for wellbutrin and after three days of taking the meds developed tinnitus. Some days are OK but some can be very challenging especially at night. My doc says that it can’t be the meds but I disagree. Besides he wouldn’t agree to the fact something he suggested caused the issue.

    • Ally T September 20, 2016, 10:23 pm

      Oh wow. I’ve been on a generic for Wellbutrin for 4 days and have ringing in my ears (it started on day 3). Did it ever go away for you?

  • Drina February 9, 2015, 5:31 pm

    I’ve been off on wellbutrin 300 mg XL for years. On clonazepam 1 mg also steadily. I was off WB months, then due to worsening depression, I restarted myself at 300 mg of XL. felt good but couldn’t sleep, then came down in a month with the flu. Felt very ill, unrelated but had noticed tinnitus… so stopped wellbutrin.

    Now for almost 3 months have had tinnitus and brain zaps. I’m used to zaps from quitting before, but this time it’s so long for them not to go away. Have superb hearing based on a test. In anyone’s opinion is tinnitus related to brain zaps? Will it subside? Or should I restart wellbutrin?

  • JBN January 28, 2015, 6:52 pm

    Everytime I have taken Wellbutrin the ringing in my ears gets worse and far more noticeable. When I quit it eventually returns to what I always had. It used to be only when I was in complete dead silence I heard the ringing. Doctors argue with me but how can they dispute the facts, while taking this stuff my ears ring 24 hours a day!

    I care a lot about helping others who are suffering from depression so now I am in a experimental drug test group for a drug that is 2/3 the way through testing. Let me tell you, the tinnitus has ramped up to the point that some people would be driven mad! I have always had sensitive hearing and hated it when a bar or concert was blasting loud. I avoid any loud noises now.

    My ears would ring for days after, but would go back to “normal” about 3 days later. So I believe you have to already be prone to tinnitus to have antidepressants set it off, but when it does, it does. Period. I may get to the point where the benefits are not worth the price of hearing clearly, or at least drop out of the test drug participation as it is virtually taking 3 different drugs at the same time. Each causing more tinnitus.

    • Nan January 29, 2017, 6:39 pm

      I also am getting tinnitus from wellbutrin… was ok at 150 and when it was bumped up to 300mg, it became pretty loud to the point it was difficult to concentrate. I had only been on it for a few weeks so I just stopped for now. Three days in and it’s still bugging me. going to ask my doc to decrease back to 150. I’m hoping that will do it as I was noticing some benefits with the wellbutrin as well. Also taking Effexor 225mg, for several years now.

  • lee December 1, 2014, 8:19 pm

    If you are experiencing SSRI/SSNRI withdrawal symptoms, check for a genetic SNP on CPY2D6. That gene is required for metabolizing a whole host of AD’s, and if you are taking a substrate for CPY2D6, with a SNP that prevents metabolizing the drug, you can be doing long term damage. I learned that the hard way and have had debilitating tinnitus for over 3 years now.

  • Sulli November 13, 2014, 10:03 pm

    I have suffered tinnitus since withdrawing from Citalopram (an SSRI). My dose was 20mg for 18 months before reducing to 10mg daily with no issues. I tapered down over a period of weeks to firstly 10mg every 2 days then to 5 mg every 2 days before stopping taking it. Once down to 5mg I started getting some dizziness and tinnitus, but manageable. However after stopping completely the tinnitus and dizziness became severe, with regular ‘buzzes’ seeming to go through my head.

    Talked to GP and he said it was normal and I had tapered down sensibly and stick with it for a couple of weeks before deciding whether I need to go back on it. Researching on the internet I have found that severe tinnitus and electric shock type buzzes in the head are very common on SSRI withdrawal, often long term! Not too happy not having side effects and withdrawal issues not explained at all when I was prescribed. Can’t find any way to reduce these issues, but determined not to go back to medication as don’t think I need it any more. Would appreciate any advice.

    • Peter January 13, 2015, 6:43 pm

      Hi, I suffer from severe T after taking Citalopram for some weeks in 2012. It never disappeared after withdrawal of Citalopram. Doctors say: No, no, this can´t be from SSRI, but I know: yes, it can. Now I am wearing Noisers.

      • Victor January 12, 2016, 5:49 pm

        Peter, Hello my name is Victor. I am Brazilian. Took Lexapro 10mg for 13 days and the buzz came. I wanted to talk to you about this side effect.

      • Renee September 1, 2016, 1:27 pm

        What’s a Noiser?

      • Lorelei September 21, 2016, 5:09 am

        What are noisers? I have severe tinnitus from antidepressants. Thanks. Feel sorry for you.

    • Angela April 3, 2016, 6:28 am

      Hi, I have the same story here. It’s been two and a half months. Did your tinnitus stop over time? Thanks.

  • AJ October 28, 2014, 8:10 pm

    I’ve always (well, since I was a teenager and went to too many loud concerts) had tinnitus. I noticed when I started Wellbutrin that it got temporarily worse, but things like caffeine, not getting sleep, travel, etc, also make it flare up.

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