Tinnitus, as with lots of chronic conditions, has a mental health component to it. Coping with the symptoms isn’t the only difficulty. It’s handling the symptoms constantly never knowing for certain if they will go away. Sadly, for some people, tinnitus can bring about depression.
According to a study conducted by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, persistent tinnitus has been connected to an increase in suicide cases, especially among women.
What’s The Link Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
Scientists at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 individuals to establish the link between tinnitus and suicide (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the answers they received:
- 22.5% of the respondents reported experiencing tinnitus.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- Of the men with significant tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Only 2.1% of respondents reported 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 attempting to raise awareness for them. And most people with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t have their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing specialist. Not only are there therapies for tinnitus, lots of individuals experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
This study must be replicated in other areas of the world, with different population sizes, and ruling out other variables before we can come to any broad generalizations. In the meantime, we need to take these findings seriously.
What Does This Research Mean?
While this research indicates an increased risk of suicide for women with significant tinnitus, the study did not draw definitive conclusions as to why women were at greater risk of suicide than men. 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.
Some things to take note of:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
Most individuals who experience tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate instances also have their own challenges, of course. But the statistical connection between suicide and women with tinnitus was most pronounced (and, thus, denotes the biggest risk) with those who rated their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Perhaps the next most surprising conclusion in this research is that fairly few individuals were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they presented moderate to severe symptoms.
This is perhaps the best way to minimize the danger of suicide and other health problems related to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall advantages:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more effectively managed with treatment.
- Hearing loss can be treated and tinnitus is often 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 dealing with hearing loss by wearing hearing aids can help reduce tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. Make an appointment to learn if hearing aids could help you.