As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health element to tinnitus. It’s not just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner strength and resiliency to do it on a regular basis without knowing whether they will ever recede for good. For some people, regrettably, depression can be the result.
According to a study carried out by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, persistent tinnitus has been linked to an increase in suicide cases, particularly among women.
What’s The Connection Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
Scientists at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people to establish the link between tinnitus and suicide (bigger sample sizes are needed to produce dependable, scientific final results).
According to the answers they got back:
- 22.5% of the participants reported having tinnitus.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- Of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Just 2.1% of respondents 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 attempting to raise awareness for them. These results also indicate that a significant portion of individuals experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Not only are there therapies for tinnitus, lots of people experience relief by using hearing aids.
Are These Findings Universal?
This research must be replicated in other areas of the world, with different population sizes, and ruling out other variables before we can come to any broad generalizations. That being said, we shouldn’t ignore the problem in the meantime.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
The study was inconclusive about why women had an increased suicide rate than men but that was definitely the result. There are numerous possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing intrinsic in the data that points towards any of those explanations as more or less likely.
Here are a few things to pay attention to:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
Most individuals who notice tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate instances also have their own challenges, of course. But the statistical correlation between women with tinnitus and suicide was most pronounced (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who described their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
Perhaps the next most surprising conclusion in this study is that relatively few people were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they presented moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, possibly, the most significant area of possibility and one of the best ways to reduce suicide or other health risks at the same time. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall advantages:
- People who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better regulate their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is commonly a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people with tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies suggest that hearing aids help control the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. Make an appointment to find out if hearing aids might help you.