Tinnitus and antidepressants | British Tinnitus Association

Name of treatment


Type of treatment Pharmaceutical
Claims for treatment

Reduces/eliminates the tinnitus percept. 

How treatment is delivered Orally
Potential negative consequences

Common side effects from clinical trials included: sedation, sexual dysfunction and dry mouth. [1]; 

Evidence offered

Papers available 6 (as in the Cochrane review[1])
Conclusions drawn

It is yet unclear if the potential benefits of antidepressants stem from reducing tinnitus distress or depression; well designed, long studies are necessary.

One study administering selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor showed promising effects for tinnitus distress when the medication’s maximum dosage was administered. Future studies should further investigate these results.

Quality of evidence [2]


Does the BTA recommend this treatment? Yes, where clinically indicated for low mood
BTA opinion on this treatment

Antidepressants may be administered to diminish depression and anxiety in tinnitus. There are, however, low evidence levels for the administration of antidepressants for reducing tinnitus distress.

We suggest talking to your doctor about the potential effects and side effects of antidepressants.

Would the BTA support further studies into this treatment? Yes, if a high-quality study
Verdict: Safety. Is this treatment harmful?

 Limited potential for harm

Verdict: Efficacy. Does this treatment work?

 No evidence of an effect

[1] Baldo P, Doree C, Molin P, McFerran D, Cecco S. Antidepressants for patients with tinnitus. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD003853. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003853.pub3

[2] A = Systematic review/meta-analysis. B = Randomised control studies. C = Cohort studies. D = Case-control studies. E = case studies/reports. +/- to be used to indicate quality within bands

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Updated 15 April 2019

Information currently under review April 2022

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