Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. It’s not just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s coping with the symptoms constantly never knowing for sure if they will go away. For some individuals, regrettably, depression can be the outcome.
According to research conducted by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, persistent tinnitus has been linked to an increase in suicide rates, particularly with women.
Suicide And Tinnitus, What’s The Connection?
Researchers at the SPHC questioned about 70,000 individuals to determine the link between suicide and tinnitus (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
Here are some of the results:
- 22.5% of the participants reported having tinnitus.
- 9% of women with significant tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- Out of the men with significant tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- A hearing professional diagnosed tinnitus in just 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 findings also suggest that a large portion of people suffering from tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional assistance. Many people can get relief by using hearing aids and other therapies.
Are These Findings Universal?
This study must be replicated in other areas of the world, with different sized populations, and ruling out other variables before we can come to any broad generalizations. That being said, we shouldn’t ignore the concern in the meantime.
What Does This Research Suggest?
While this research suggests 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 a variety of possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing inherent in the data that points towards any of those arguments as more or less likely.
Here are some things to pay attention to:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
Most people who notice tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate instances also present their own obstacles, of course. But the suicide risk for women was much more marked for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Most of the participants in this study who described moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is perhaps the next most shocking conclusion.
This is probably the best way to reduce the risk of suicide and other health problems linked to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. Here are a few of the many benefits that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- 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.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus is Associated With Hearing Impairment
Up to 90% of people who cope with tinnitus also have hearing impairment according to some studies and dealing with hearing loss by using hearing aids can help decrease tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. Schedule an appointment to find out if hearing aids could help you.