Objective: Most studies of the association between tinnitus and depression have been cross-sectional, making it difficult to draw any conclusions about the directionality of the association. This study aimed to clarify whether tinnitus precedes the development of depressive symptoms in a general older population. Methods: Residents of Kurabuchi Town, Gunma Prefecture, Japan (239 men, 296 women: ≥. 65. years) without depressive symptoms were given health examinations in 2005-2006. Information on tinnitus was obtained via a questionnaire. Depressive symptoms were then assessed in a face-to-face home visit interviews carried out once in 2007 and once in 2008 according to the Geriatric Depression Scale 15-item version (GDS15). Results: Among the men, the 2.5-year incidence of depressive symptoms (GDS15. ≥. 6) was higher in those with tinnitus than in those without (20.5% vs. 9.5%). In the multi-adjusted model, tinnitus was significantly associated with an increased risk of depressive symptoms (relative risk. =. 2.07; 95% confidence interval. =. 1.01-4.25). Among the women, no associations were found. Conclusion: In the present study, tinnitus was independently associated with the risk of depressive symptoms developing in men, but not in women. We believe primary care providers and public health staff should recognize tinnitus as a risk factor for depressive symptoms.
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