As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health element to tinnitus. It’s not just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s coping with the symptoms continuously never knowing for certain if they will go away. Sadly, for some, tinnitus can result in depression.
Chronic tinnitus has been linked to a higher instance of suicide, especially among women, according to research published in the Journal of American Medical Association and carried out by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
Tinnitus And Suicide, What’s The Link?
Scientists at the SPHC questioned about 70,000 individuals to determine the connection between tinnitus and suicide (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the responses they got back:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of respondents.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- A hearing professional diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of participants.
It’s clear that women with tinnitus have a higher instance of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. These results also suggest that a large portion of individuals experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional assistance. Many people can get relief by using hearing aids and other therapies.
Are These Universal Findings?
Before any broad generalizations can be made, this study needs to be duplicated in different parts of the world with different variables and population sizes. That being said, we shouldn’t disregard the concern in the meantime.
What Does This Research Mean?
The study was inconclusive about why women had a higher 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 arguments as more or less likely.
Some things to take note of:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of those who have experienced tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight cases of tinnitus do not have their own obstacles. But the statistical correlation between suicide and women with tinnitus was most evident (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who described their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Maybe the next most startling conclusion in this research is that fairly few people were officially diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they had moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, perhaps, the most significant area of possibility and one of the best ways to lower suicide or other health risks simultaneously. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall advantages:
- Those who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better control their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is often a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus is Linked to Hearing Impairment
Up to 90% of individuals who cope with tinnitus also have hearing impairment according to some studies and treating hearing loss by using hearing aids can help decrease tinnitus symptoms. In fact, some hearing aids are designed with extra features to improve tinnitus symptoms. Make an appointment to learn if hearing aids could help you.