Tinnitus, as with lots of chronic conditions, has a mental health aspect to it. It isn’t just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner strength and resilience to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever go away permanently. Sadly, for some, tinnitus can lead to depression.
Chronic tinnitus has been connected to a higher rate of suicide, particularly in women, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association and carried out by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
What’s The Connection Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
In order to establish any kind of link between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 individuals (large sample sizes are necessary to generate dependable, scientific final results).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of participants.
- 9% of women with significant tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of respondents.
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 specialist. Many individuals can get relief by wearing hearing aids and other therapies.
Are These Universal Findings?
Before any broad generalizations can be made, this study needs to be replicated in different parts of the world with different variables and population sizes. That said, we shouldn’t disregard the problem in the meantime.
What Does This Research Suggest?
While this research indicates an elevated risk of suicide for women with severe tinnitus, the study didn’t draw clear 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.
Some things to take note of:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
First off, the vast majority of people who have experienced tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate instances also present their own obstacles, of course. But the suicide risk for women was far more pronounced for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Most of The Participants Weren’t 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 shocking conclusion.
This is, perhaps, the most important area of opportunity and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health risks simultaneously. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall benefits:
- Those 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.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
Up to 90% of individuals who experience tinnitus also have hearing impairment according to some studies and managing hearing loss by wearing hearing aids can help decrease tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. To discover if hearing aids can help you, set up an appointment.