As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health component 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 permanently. Unfortunately, for some people, tinnitus can result in depression.
According to a study conducted 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.
What’s The Connection Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
In order to identify any type of link between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people (large sample sizes are needed to generate reliable, scientific results).
According to the responses they received:
- 22.5% of the participants reported experiencing tinnitus.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in just 2.1% of participants.
The differences in suicide rates between men and women are clear, leading the experts to bring attention to the increased dangers for women. These findings also suggest that a large portion of people experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional assistance. Not only are there therapies for tinnitus, many individuals 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 ignore the problem in the meantime.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
While this research points to an increased risk of suicide for women with significant tinnitus, the study did not draw clear conclusions as to why women had a higher risk of suicide than men. There are a variety of possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing inherent in the data that singles out any of those arguments as more or less likely.
Some things to take note of:
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 present their own obstacles, of course. But the statistical connection between women with tinnitus and suicide was most evident (and, thus, denotes the biggest risk) with those who rated their tinnitus as severe.
Most of The Respondents Weren’t Diagnosed
Possibly the next most startling conclusion in this study is that relatively few people were officially diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they displayed moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, possibly, the most important area of possibility and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health concerns at the same time. Here are a few of the numerous advantages that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- People who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better manage their symptoms.
- Hearing loss can be treated and tinnitus is frequently a warning sign.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus is Linked to Hearing Loss
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people with tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies indicate that hearing aids help control the symptoms of tinnitus. In fact, some hearing aids are designed with additional features to help tinnitus symptoms. Schedule an appointment to find out if hearing aids might help you.