Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. It isn’t just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s handling the symptoms constantly never knowing for certain if they will subside. For some people, sadly, depression can be the result.
According to research carried out by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, persistent tinnitus has been connected to an increase in suicide cases, particularly with women.
What’s The Link Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
Scientists at the SPHC questioned around 70,000 people to establish the connection between tinnitus and suicide (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the answers they got back:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of participants.
- Suicide attempts occurred with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of respondents.
The differences in suicide rates between men and women are clear, leading the researchers to bring attention to the heightened risks for women. These findings also indicate that a large portion of individuals experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, lots of individuals experience relief by using hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
This study must be duplicated in other parts of the world, with different sized populations, and eliminating other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. In the meantime, we need to take these findings seriously.
What Does This Research Suggest?
The study was inconclusive about why women had a higher suicide rate than men but that was definitely the result. There are various reasons why this could be but the data doesn’t pinpoint any one reason why this might be.
Here are a few things to pay attention to:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
Most individuals who experience tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean modest or slight instances of tinnitus do not offer their own challenges. But the statistical correlation between women with tinnitus and suicide was most pronounced (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who described their tinnitus as severe.
Most of The Participants Weren’t Diagnosed
Maybe the next most shocking conclusion in this research is that relatively few people were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they had moderate to severe symptoms.
This is possibly the best way to decrease the danger of suicide and other health concerns related to tinnitus and hearing impairment in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall benefits:
- Individuals who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better manage their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is frequently a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
Up to 90% of people who cope with tinnitus also have hearing loss according to some studies and managing hearing loss by wearing hearing aids can help decrease tinnitus symptoms. In fact, some hearing aids are designed with additional features to help tinnitus symptoms. To learn if hearing aids can help you, schedule an appointment.