Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. Dealing with the symptoms isn’t the only obstacle. It’s coping with the symptoms constantly never knowing for sure if they will subside. Regrettably, for some, tinnitus can lead to depression.
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 linked to an increase in suicide cases, particularly with women.
What’s The Connection Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
Researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 individuals to determine the connection between tinnitus and suicide (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the answers they received:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of respondents.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with significant tinnitus.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Only 2.1% of participants documented that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing specialist.
The differences in suicide rates between women and men are obvious, leading the researchers 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 treatments for tinnitus, many people experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
Before any broad generalizations can be determined, this study needs to be replicated in different areas of the world with different variables and population sizes. That being 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 had a higher risk of suicide than men. There are numerous possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing intrinsic in the data that points towards any of those arguments as more or less likely.
Some things to take note of:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
First off, the vast majority of those who have experienced tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean modest or slight cases of tinnitus do not offer their own challenges. But the suicide risk for women was significantly more pronounced for women who reported “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Most of the respondents in this study who described moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is probably the next most surprising conclusion.
This is probably the best way to decrease the risk of suicide and other health concerns connected to tinnitus and hearing impairment in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall advantages:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more effectively controlled with treatment.
- Tinnitus is commonly a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus is Associated With Hearing Loss
It’s estimated that 90 percent of individuals who suffer from tinnitus have hearing loss, and studies indicate that hearing aids help manage the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. Make an appointment to find out if hearing aids could help you.