As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. It isn’t just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s coping with the symptoms continuously never knowing for sure if they will subside. Regrettably, for some people, 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, persistent tinnitus has been connected to an increase in suicide cases, particularly with women.
What’s The Connection Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
Scientists at the SPHC questioned about 70,000 individuals to determine the connection between suicide and tinnitus (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the answers they received:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of participants.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Just 2.1% of respondents reported that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing professional.
It’s obvious that women with tinnitus have a higher rate of suicide and researchers are attempting to raise awareness for them. And most individuals with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t have their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing specialist. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, many individuals experience relief by using hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
This study must be duplicated in other parts of the world, with different sized populations, and ruling out other variables before we can come to any broad generalizations. That being said, we shouldn’t ignore the concern in the meantime.
What Does This Research Mean?
While this research indicates an increased 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 reasons why this might be but the data doesn’t pinpoint any one reason why this might be.
Some things to take note of:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
First off, the vast majority of those who have noticed tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate instances also present their own obstacles, of course. But the suicide risk for women was much more marked for women who reported “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
Perhaps the next most shocking conclusion in this study is that fairly few people were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they had moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, possibly, the most important 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 present many overall benefits:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more efficiently controlled with treatment.
- Tinnitus is frequently a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus is Connected to Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people who suffer from tinnitus have hearing loss, and studies suggest that hearing aids help regulate the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. Schedule an appointment to learn if hearing aids might help you.