As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health component to tinnitus. It isn’t just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s coping with the symptoms continuously never knowing for certain if they will subside. For some individuals, sadly, 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 associated with an increase in suicide rates, particularly with women.
Tinnitus And Suicide, What’s The Link?
In order to establish any type of link between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 individuals (large sample sizes are needed to produce reliable, scientific results).
According to the answers they received:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of participants.
- Suicide attempts occurred with 9% of women with significant tinnitus.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Only 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 instance of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. And most people with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t have their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing professional. Not only are there therapies for tinnitus, lots of individuals experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
Before any broad generalizations can be made, this study needs to be repeated in different areas of the world with different variables and population sizes. In the meantime, we need to take these findings seriously.
What Does This Research Suggest?
While this research indicates an elevated risk of suicide for women with severe tinnitus, the study did not draw clear conclusions as to why women were at greater risk of suicide than men. There are various reasons why this might be but the data doesn’t identify any one reason why this might be.
Here are some things to pay attention to:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
Most people who notice tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight instances of tinnitus do not present their own challenges. But the suicide risk for women was much more marked for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Most of The Participants Weren’t Diagnosed
Possibly the next most surprising conclusion in this study is that relatively few individuals were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they displayed moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, possibly, the most significant area of opportunity and one of the best ways to lower suicide or other health concerns simultaneously. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall advantages:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more efficiently controlled with treatment.
- Tinnitus is frequently a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is frequently improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss
Up to 90% of people who cope with tinnitus also have hearing impairment according to some studies and dealing with hearing loss by wearing hearing aids can help decrease tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. To learn if hearing aids can help you, schedule an appointment.