Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health component to tinnitus. It isn’t 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 go away for good. For some people, unfortunately, 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 cases, especially among women.
Suicide And Tinnitus, What’s The Connection?
Researchers at the SPHC questioned around 70,000 people to establish the link between suicide and tinnitus (bigger sample sizes are needed to produce dependable, scientific final results).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of participants.
- 9% of women with significant tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- Of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Only 2.1% of participants documented that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing specialist.
It’s obvious that women with tinnitus have a higher rate of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. These results also suggest that a significant portion of individuals experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional assistance. Not only are there therapies for tinnitus, many individuals experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
Before any broad generalizations can be made, this study needs to be duplicated in different areas of the world with different variables and population sizes. In the meantime, we need to take these findings seriously.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
The study was inconclusive about why women had a higher suicide rate than men but that was definitely the result. There are numerous possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing intrinsic in the data that points towards any of those explanations as more or less likely.
Some things to take note of:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
First off, the vast majority of individuals 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 reported “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
The majority of the participants in this study who reported moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is probably the next most shocking conclusion.
This is, perhaps, the most important area of possibility and one of the best ways to reduce suicide or other health risks simultaneously. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall advantages:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more effectively controlled with treatment.
- Tinnitus is often a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is frequently improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus is Associated With Hearing Loss
Up to 90% of people who experience tinnitus also have hearing loss according to some studies and treating hearing loss by using hearing aids can help decrease tinnitus symptoms. As a matter of fact, some hearing aids are made with extra features to improve tinnitus symptoms. Make an appointment to learn if hearing aids might help you.