Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. Dealing with the symptoms isn’t the only difficulty. It’s finding the inner strength and resilience to do it on a regular basis without knowing whether they will ever go away once and for all. Regrettably, for some, tinnitus can result in depression.
Chronic tinnitus has been associated with a higher instance of suicide, particularly in women, according to research published in the Journal of American Medical Association and performed by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
What’s The Link Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
So that they can identify any kind of link between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 individuals (large sample sizes are needed to generate dependable, scientific results).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of participants.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in just 2.1% of participants.
The differences in suicide rates between women and men are clear, leading the researchers to bring attention to the heightened risks for women. These results also suggest that a large portion of people suffering from tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, many people experience relief by using hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
This research must be replicated in other areas of the world, with different sized populations, and eliminating other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. In the meantime, we should take these findings seriously.
What Does This Research Mean?
The study was inconclusive about why women had an increased suicide rate than men but that was definitely the result. There are a variety of possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing inherent in the data that singles out 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 people who have noticed tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate cases also present their own challenges, of course. But the suicide risk for women was far more marked for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
The majority of the participants in this study who described moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is probably the next most surprising conclusion.
This is possibly the best way to reduce the risk of suicide and other health problems linked to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall advantages:
- Individuals 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 is Connected to Hearing Loss
It’s estimated that 90 percent of individuals who suffer from tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies indicate that hearing aids help manage the symptoms of tinnitus. As a matter of fact, some hearing aids are designed with additional features to help tinnitus symptoms. Schedule an appointment to find out if hearing aids could help you.