As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health element to tinnitus. It’s not just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner fortitude and resilience to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever recede for good. For some people, unfortunately, depression can be the outcome.
According to research carried out by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, persistent tinnitus has been associated with an increase in suicide cases, especially with women.
Tinnitus And Suicide, What’s The Connection?
So that they can establish any kind of connection between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people (bigger sample sizes are needed to generate dependable, scientific results).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of respondents.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- 5.5% of men with severe tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of participants.
The differences in suicide rates between women and men are obvious, leading the experts to bring attention to the increased dangers for women. And most individuals with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t get their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing professional. Not only are there therapies for tinnitus, many people experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
This study must be replicated in other parts of the world, with different sized populations, and eliminating other variables before we can come to any broad generalizations. That said, we shouldn’t ignore the concern in the meantime.
What Does This Research Suggest?
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:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
Most individuals who experience 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 statistical correlation between women with tinnitus and suicide was most pronounced (and, thus, denotes the biggest risk) with those who rated their tinnitus as severe.
Most of The Participants Weren’t Diagnosed
Most of the participants in this study who described moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is perhaps the next most shocking conclusion.
This is, perhaps, the most important area of opportunity and one of the best ways to lower suicide or other health concerns at the same time. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall benefits:
- Individuals who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better regulate their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is often a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people with tinnitus have hearing loss, and studies indicate that hearing aids help regulate the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. Schedule an appointment to find out if hearing aids might help you.