Tinnitus, as with many chronic conditions, has a mental health component to it. Dealing with the symptoms isn’t the only challenge. It’s coping with the symptoms continuously never knowing for sure if they will subside. Sadly, for some people, tinnitus can cause depression.
According to a study carried out 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 cases, particularly among women.
What’s The Connection Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
So that they can establish any type of connection between suicide and tinnitus, researchers at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 individuals (bigger sample sizes are necessary to generate dependable, scientific results).
Here are some of the results:
- 22.5% of the respondents reported experiencing tinnitus.
- 9% of women with extreme tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Of the men with significant tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Only 2.1% of participants reported that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing specialist.
It’s clear that women with tinnitus have a higher rate of suicide and researchers are attempting to raise awareness for them. These results also suggest that a large portion of individuals experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional assistance. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, lots of individuals experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
This research must be replicated in other areas of the world, with different sized populations, and ruling out other variables before we can come to any broad generalizations. That said, we shouldn’t disregard the problem in the meantime.
What Does This Research Mean?
The study was inconclusive about why women had a higher suicide rate than men but that was certainly the result. 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.
Some things to take note of:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
Most individuals who notice tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight instances of tinnitus do not have their own challenges. But the suicide risk for women was much more pronounced for women who reported “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Most of The Participants Weren’t Diagnosed
Most of the respondents in this research who described moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is probably the next most surprising conclusion.
This is, possibly, the most significant area of possibility and one of the best ways to lower suicide or other health risks simultaneously. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall advantages:
- Those who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better regulate their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is commonly a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
Up to 90% of people who cope with tinnitus also have hearing impairment according to some studies and managing hearing loss by wearing hearing aids can help decrease tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. To learn if hearing aids can help you, set up an appointment.