As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. Dealing with the symptoms isn’t the only obstacle. It’s coping with the symptoms continuously never knowing for sure if they will subside. For some people, unfortunately, depression can be the result.
According to research conducted by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, chronic 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 around 70,000 individuals to determine the connection between suicide and tinnitus (bigger sample sizes are necessary to generate reliable, scientific final results).
According to the answers they received:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of participants.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with significant tinnitus.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Just 2.1% of respondents reported that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing specialist.
It’s obvious that women with tinnitus have a higher rate of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. These results also suggest that a large portion of people experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional assistance. Many individuals can get relief by using hearing aids and other treatments.
Are These Findings Universal?
Before any broad generalizations can be determined, this study needs to be repeated in different areas of the world with different variables and population sizes. That said, we shouldn’t ignore the problem in the meantime.
What Does This Research Mean?
While this research points to an elevated risk of suicide for women with significant tinnitus, the study did not draw clear conclusions as to why women were at greater 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 some things to pay attention to:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of individuals who have experienced tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean modest or slight cases of tinnitus don’t offer their own obstacles. But the statistical connection between women with tinnitus and suicide was most pronounced (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who described their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Possibly the next most startling conclusion in this study is that relatively few people were officially diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they presented moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, possibly, the most significant 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 advantages:
- Those who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better control their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is commonly a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus is Linked to Hearing Loss
Up to 90% of individuals who experience tinnitus also have hearing loss according to some studies and managing hearing loss by wearing hearing aids can help decrease tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. To discover if hearing aids can help you, schedule an appointment.