As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health element to tinnitus. Dealing with the symptoms isn’t the only difficulty. It’s finding the inner strength and resiliency to do it on a regular basis without knowing whether they will ever recede once and for all. Sadly, for some people, tinnitus can lead to 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, particularly among women.
Suicide And Tinnitus, What’s The Link?
In order to identify any type of connection between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 individuals (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the answers they got back:
- 22.5% of the respondents reported having tinnitus.
- 9% of women with extreme tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- Of the men with significant tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Only 2.1% of participants documented that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing professional.
The differences in suicide rates between women and men are clear, leading the experts to bring attention to the heightened dangers for women. These results also indicate that a significant portion of people suffering from tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, many people experience relief by using hearing aids.
Are These Findings Universal?
This study must be duplicated in other parts of the world, with different population sizes, and eliminating other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. That said, we shouldn’t disregard the problem in the meantime.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
While this research suggests 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 numerous reasons why this could be but the data doesn’t pinpoint any one reason why this might be.
Some things to take note of:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
Most individuals who experience tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean modest or slight cases of tinnitus do not have their own obstacles. But the statistical correlation between suicide and women with tinnitus was most pronounced (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who described their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
The majority of the participants in this study who reported moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is possibly the next most shocking conclusion.
This is, perhaps, the most important area of opportunity and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health risks simultaneously. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall advantages:
- Those who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better control their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is often a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is frequently improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus is Connected to Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people who suffer from tinnitus have hearing loss, and studies suggest that hearing aids help control the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. Make an appointment to learn if hearing aids might help you.