Tinnitus, like many chronic conditions, has a mental health element to it. It isn’t just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s handling the symptoms constantly never knowing for certain if they will go away. Sadly, for some, tinnitus can bring about depression.
According to research conducted by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, persistent tinnitus has been associated with an increase in suicide cases, especially among women.
Tinnitus And Suicide, What’s The Link?
Researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people to determine the link between tinnitus and suicide (large sample sizes are needed to generate dependable, scientific final results).
According to the answers they got back:
- 22.5% of the participants reported experiencing tinnitus.
- 9% of women with significant tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Of the men with significant tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of participants.
It’s clear that women with tinnitus have a higher rate of suicide and researchers are attempting to raise awareness for them. And most individuals with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t have their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing professional. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, many individuals experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
Before any broad generalizations can be determined, this study needs to be repeated in different areas of the world with different variables and population sizes. That being said, we shouldn’t disregard the problem in the meantime.
What Does This Research Suggest?
The study was inconclusive about why women had an increased suicide rate than men but that was certainly the result. There are a variety of possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing inherent in the data that points towards any of those explanations as more or less likely.
Some things to take note of:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of those who have experienced tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight instances of tinnitus don’t present their own challenges. But the suicide risk for women was far more pronounced for women who reported “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Perhaps the next most startling conclusion in this research is that fairly few individuals were officially diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they presented moderate to severe symptoms.
This is probably the best way to minimize the risk of suicide and other health concerns related to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. Here are some of the numerous advantages that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more effectively controlled with treatment.
- Tinnitus is frequently a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people who suffer from tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies suggest that hearing aids help manage the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. Make an appointment to learn if hearing aids could help you.