Tinnitus, like many chronic conditions, has a mental health component to it. It’s not just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner strength and resiliency to do it on a regular basis without knowing whether they will ever go away for good. Sadly, for some people, tinnitus can bring about depression.
Chronic tinnitus has been linked to a higher rate of suicide, especially among 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 Link Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
So that they can identify any kind of link between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the answers they got back:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of participants.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- Just 2.1% of respondents documented that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing professional.
It’s obvious 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 get their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing specialist. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, lots of individuals experience relief by using hearing aids.
Are These Findings Universal?
Before any broad generalizations can be determined, this study needs to be replicated in different areas 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 increased risk of suicide for women with severe tinnitus, the study did not 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 arguments as more or less likely.
Some things to take note of:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
Most individuals who experience tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate instances also have their own obstacles, of course. But the suicide risk for women was significantly more pronounced for women who reported “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Possibly the next most startling conclusion in this study is that relatively few individuals were officially diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they had moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, possibly, the most significant area of possibility and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health risks at the same time. Here are a few of the many benefits that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- 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 often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus is Connected to Hearing Loss
Up to 90% of people who cope with tinnitus also have hearing impairment according to some studies and managing hearing loss by using hearing aids can help reduce tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. To learn if hearing aids can help you, make an appointment.