Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. Dealing with the symptoms isn’t the only challenge. It’s finding the inner fortitude and resiliency to do it on a regular basis without knowing whether they will ever recede once and for all. For some individuals, unfortunately, depression can be the outcome.
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 linked to an increase in suicide cases, particularly with women.
What’s The Connection Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
Researchers at the SPHC questioned around 70,000 individuals to determine the connection between tinnitus and suicide (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
Here are some of the results:
- 22.5% of the participants reported having tinnitus.
- Suicide attempts occurred with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- Out 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 clear 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 large 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 determined, 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 Does This Research Mean?
While this research points to an increased risk of suicide for women with severe tinnitus, the study did not draw definitive conclusions as to why women had a higher risk of suicide than men. There are various reasons why this could be but the data doesn’t pinpoint any one reason why this might be.
Here are some things to pay attention to:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
First off, the vast majority of individuals who have noticed tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate instances also present their own obstacles, of course. But the statistical connection between women with tinnitus and suicide was most pronounced (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who rated their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
Maybe the next most shocking conclusion in this research is that relatively few people were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they presented moderate to severe symptoms.
This is perhaps the best way to decrease the risk of suicide and other health problems linked to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall advantages:
- Individuals who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better manage their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is often a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss
Up to 90% of individuals who experience tinnitus also have hearing loss according to some studies and dealing with hearing loss by wearing hearing aids can help minimize tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. To find out if hearing aids can help you, make an appointment.