Tinnitus, like many chronic conditions, has a mental health element to it. Dealing with the symptoms isn’t the only difficulty. It’s finding the inner strength and resiliency to do it on a regular basis without knowing whether they will ever go away permanently. For some people, 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, chronic tinnitus has been connected to an increase in suicide rates, particularly among women.
What’s The Link Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
So that they can identify any type of link between suicide and tinnitus, researchers at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 individuals (bigger sample sizes are needed to generate reliable, scientific final results).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of respondents.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- Of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- A hearing professional diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of participants.
It’s obvious that women with tinnitus have a higher rate of suicide and researchers are attempting 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 people can get relief by using hearing aids and other treatments.
Are These Universal Findings?
This study must be duplicated in other parts of the world, with different sized populations, and eliminating other variables before we can come to any broad generalizations. That said, we shouldn’t ignore the concern in the meantime.
What Does This Research Mean?
The study was inconclusive about why women had an increased suicide rate than men but that was certainly the result. 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 present their own challenges, of course. But the statistical correlation 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 fairly few people were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they had moderate to severe symptoms.
This is possibly the best way to minimize the danger of suicide and other health problems linked to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall advantages:
- People who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better control their symptoms.
- Hearing loss can be treated and tinnitus is commonly a warning sign.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus is Connected to Hearing Impairment
Up to 90% of people who cope with tinnitus also have hearing loss according to some studies and dealing with hearing loss by using hearing aids can help reduce tinnitus symptoms. In fact, some hearing aids are designed with additional features to help tinnitus symptoms. Schedule an appointment to learn if hearing aids might help you.