Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health component to tinnitus. It isn’t just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner strength and resilience to do it on a regular basis without knowing whether they will ever recede permanently. Regrettably, for some, tinnitus can cause 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 linked to an increase in suicide cases, particularly among women.
Tinnitus And Suicide, What’s The Link?
Researchers at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 people to determine the connection between tinnitus and suicide (bigger sample sizes are necessary to generate dependable, scientific results).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of participants.
- 9% of women with significant tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- A hearing professional diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of respondents.
It’s clear that women with tinnitus have a higher instance of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. And most individuals with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t get their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing specialist. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, many individuals experience relief by wearing 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 problem in the meantime.
What Does This Research Mean?
While this research suggests an elevated risk of suicide for women with severe tinnitus, the study didn’t draw definitive conclusions as to why women were at greater risk of suicide than men. There are numerous possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing intrinsic 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 off, the vast majority of individuals who have noticed tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight cases of tinnitus do not offer their own obstacles. But the statistical correlation between women with tinnitus and suicide was most evident (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who rated their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Possibly the next most shocking conclusion in this study is that fairly few people were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they presented moderate to severe symptoms.
This is probably the best way to decrease the danger of suicide and other health concerns connected to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall advantages:
- Those who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better regulate their symptoms.
- Hearing impairment can be treated and tinnitus is commonly a warning sign.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people who suffer from tinnitus have hearing loss, and studies indicate that hearing aids help regulate the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. To find out if hearing aids can help you, make an appointment.