Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health component to tinnitus. It isn’t just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner strength and resiliency to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever go away permanently. For some individuals, regrettably, depression can be the result.
Persistent tinnitus has been associated with a higher instance of suicide, especially in women, according to research published in the Journal of American Medical Association and conducted by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
What’s The Connection Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
Scientists at the SPHC questioned around 70,000 individuals to establish the link between tinnitus and suicide (bigger sample sizes are needed to produce dependable, scientific final results).
According to the answers they got back:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of respondents.
- 9% of women with severe tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- Of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Just 2.1% of participants reported that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing professional.
It’s clear that women with tinnitus have a higher rate of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. These findings also suggest that a large portion of individuals 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 Universal Findings?
This study must be replicated in other parts of the world, with different sized populations, and eliminating other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. That being said, we shouldn’t disregard the concern in the meantime.
What Does This Research Suggest?
The study was inconclusive about why women had an increased suicide rate than men but that was certainly the result. There are various reasons why this could be but the data doesn’t pinpoint any one reason why this might be.
Some things to take note of:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of people who have experienced tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean modest or slight cases of tinnitus do not present their own challenges. But the suicide risk for women was much more pronounced for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Most of The Participants Weren’t Diagnosed
Maybe the next most surprising conclusion in this study is that fairly few individuals were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they had moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, possibly, the most important area of opportunity and one of the best ways to lower suicide or other health concerns simultaneously. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall benefits:
- People who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better manage their symptoms.
- Hearing loss can be treated and tinnitus is commonly a warning sign.
- Depression is frequently improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of individuals who suffer from tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies suggest that hearing aids help manage the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. Make an appointment to learn if hearing aids could help you.