As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. It’s not just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner fortitude and resiliency to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever recede once and for all. For some individuals, sadly, depression can be the outcome.
According to a study carried out by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, chronic tinnitus has been associated with an increase in suicide rates, especially with women.
Suicide And Tinnitus, What’s The Link?
In order to identify any type of link between suicide and tinnitus, researchers at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 people (bigger sample sizes are necessary to generate reliable, scientific final results).
According to the answers they got back:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of respondents.
- 9% of women with extreme tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Just 2.1% of participants reported that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing specialist.
It’s clear that women with tinnitus have a higher rate of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. And most people with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t get their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing professional. Not only are there therapies for tinnitus, many individuals experience relief by using hearing aids.
Are These Findings Universal?
This research must be replicated in other areas of the world, with different population sizes, and ruling out other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. In the meantime, we need to take these findings seriously.
What Does This Research Mean?
The study was inconclusive about why women had a higher suicide rate than men but that was certainly the result. There are a variety of possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing intrinsic in the data that points towards any of those arguments as more or less likely.
Here are some things to pay attention to:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of individuals who have experienced tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate cases also have their own challenges, of course. But the statistical correlation between women with tinnitus and suicide was most evident (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who described their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
The majority of the participants in this research who reported moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is possibly the next most shocking conclusion.
This is possibly the best way to decrease the risk of suicide and other health concerns connected to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall benefits:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more efficiently managed with treatment.
- Hearing loss can be treated and tinnitus is often a warning sign.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus is Associated With Hearing Loss
Up to 90% of people who cope with tinnitus also have hearing impairment according to some studies and treating hearing loss by wearing hearing aids can help minimize tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. To learn if hearing aids can help you, make an appointment.