As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health component to tinnitus. Coping with the symptoms isn’t the only obstacle. It’s finding the inner fortitude and resilience to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever go away for good. For some people, regrettably, depression can be the result.
According to research 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 cases, especially among women.
What’s The Connection Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
Researchers at the SPHC questioned about 70,000 people to determine the connection between suicide and tinnitus (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the responses they got back:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of respondents.
- Suicide attempts occurred with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- Out of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in just 2.1% of respondents.
It’s obvious that women with tinnitus have a higher rate of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. These findings also suggest that a significant portion of people suffering from tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional assistance. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, lots of individuals experience relief by using hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
Before any broad generalizations can be made, this study needs to be duplicated in different parts of the world with different variables and population sizes. That said, we shouldn’t disregard the concern 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 definitely the result. There are numerous reasons why this could be but the data doesn’t identify any one reason why this might be.
Some things to take note of:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of individuals who have experienced tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean modest or slight cases of tinnitus do not present their own obstacles. But the suicide risk for women was far more pronounced for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
Most of the participants in this study who described moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is possibly the next most surprising conclusion.
This is, possibly, the most significant area of opportunity and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health risks at the same time. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall advantages:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more effectively managed with treatment.
- 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 people who cope with tinnitus also have hearing loss according to some studies and managing hearing loss by using hearing aids can help decrease tinnitus symptoms. In fact, some hearing aids are designed with added features to help tinnitus symptoms. To learn if hearing aids can help you, make an appointment.