Tinnitus, like many chronic conditions, has a mental health element to it. Coping with the symptoms isn’t the only challenge. It’s handling the symptoms constantly never knowing for certain if they will subside. For some individuals, unfortunately, depression can be the outcome.
Chronic tinnitus has been linked to a higher rate of suicide, particularly among women, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association and conducted by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
What’s The Connection Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
In order to identify any type of connection between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people (bigger sample sizes are necessary to produce dependable, scientific final results).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of respondents.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- Of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in just 2.1% of participants.
It’s clear that women with tinnitus have a higher instance of suicide and researchers are attempting to raise awareness for them. And most people with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t get their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing specialist. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, many individuals experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
This study must be replicated in other areas of the world, with different population sizes, and ruling out other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. In the meantime, we should take these findings seriously.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
While this research points to an increased risk of suicide for women with severe tinnitus, the study didn’t draw definitive conclusions as to why women had a higher risk of suicide than men. 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 a few things to pay attention to:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
Most people who experience tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight instances of tinnitus don’t offer their own obstacles. But the suicide risk for women was far more pronounced for women who reported “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Most of The Respondents Weren’t Diagnosed
The majority of the participants in this research who reported moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is probably the next most surprising conclusion.
This is, perhaps, the most significant area of opportunity and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health concerns at the same time. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall benefits:
- People who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better regulate their symptoms.
- Hearing loss can be treated and tinnitus is frequently a warning sign.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of individuals who suffer from tinnitus have hearing loss, 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. Schedule an appointment to learn if hearing aids might help you.