As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health component to tinnitus. It isn’t just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s coping with the symptoms constantly never knowing for sure if they will go away. For some people, unfortunately, depression can be the result.
According to a study conducted by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, chronic tinnitus has been associated with an increase in suicide cases, especially among women.
What’s The Link Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
Researchers at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 people to determine the link between suicide and tinnitus (large sample sizes are needed to generate dependable, scientific results).
According to the answers they got back:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of participants.
- 9% of women with severe tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- Out of the men with significant tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Only 2.1% of respondents documented that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing professional.
The differences in suicide rates between women and men are clear, leading the researchers to bring attention to the increased dangers for women. And most individuals with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t get their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing specialist. Many people can get relief by wearing hearing aids and other therapies.
Are These Universal Findings?
This study must be duplicated in other parts of the world, with different sized populations, and ruling out other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. That said, we shouldn’t ignore 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 definitely the result. There are numerous possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing inherent in the data that singles out any of those explanations as more or less likely.
Here are some things to pay attention to:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
First off, the vast majority of people who have noticed tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight instances of tinnitus do not offer their own obstacles. But the statistical connection between suicide and women with tinnitus was most pronounced (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who described their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
Maybe the next most startling conclusion in this research is that fairly few people were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they presented moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, perhaps, the most significant area of opportunity and one of the best ways to lower suicide or other health risks at the same time. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall benefits:
- Those who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better regulate their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is often a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is frequently improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss
Up to 90% of people who experience tinnitus also have hearing impairment according to some studies and treating hearing loss by using hearing aids can help decrease tinnitus symptoms. As a matter of fact, some hearing aids are made with extra features to help tinnitus symptoms. Make an appointment to find out if hearing aids might help you.