Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health element to tinnitus. It’s not just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner strength and resiliency to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever go away once and for all. Regrettably, for some, tinnitus can result in depression.
Persistent tinnitus has been linked to a higher instance of suicide, particularly among 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 suicide and tinnitus?
Scientists at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 individuals to determine the link between tinnitus and suicide (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the answers they got back:
- 22.5% of the respondents reported experiencing tinnitus.
- 9% of women with severe tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- Only 2.1% of respondents documented that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing specialist.
It’s clear 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 treatments for tinnitus, many people experience relief by using hearing aids.
Are these findings universal?
Before any broad generalizations can be determined, this study needs to be repeated in different parts of the world with different variables and population sizes. That being said, we shouldn’t disregard the concern in the meantime.
What does this research suggest?
While this research indicates an elevated risk of suicide for women with severe tinnitus, the study didn’t 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 off, the vast majority of individuals who have experienced tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate instances also present their own obstacles, of course. But the statistical connection between women with tinnitus and suicide was most evident (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who rated their tinnitus as severe.
Most of the respondents weren’t diagnosed
Maybe the next most startling conclusion in this study is that relatively few individuals were officially diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they displayed moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, perhaps, the most important area of possibility and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health concerns simultaneously. Here are some of the many benefits that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- 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.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus and hearing loss
Up to 90% of individuals who experience tinnitus also have hearing impairment according to some studies and managing hearing loss by using hearing aids can help reduce tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. Schedule an appointment to find out if hearing aids could help you.