Tinnitus, as with many chronic conditions, has a mental health component to it. It isn’t just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner fortitude and resilience to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever recede once and for all. For some people, sadly, depression can be the outcome.
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 connected to an increase in suicide rates, particularly among women.
What’s The Link Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
Researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people to establish the connection between suicide and tinnitus (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the responses they received:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of participants.
- 9% of women with severe tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Out of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of participants.
The differences in suicide rates between men and women are obvious, leading the researchers to call out the heightened risks for women. These findings also suggest that a significant portion of people suffering from tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Many people can get relief by wearing hearing aids and other treatments.
Are These Findings Universal?
Before any broad generalizations can be determined, this study needs to be repeated in different areas of the world with different variables and population sizes. In the meantime, we should take these findings seriously.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
While this research points to an increased risk of suicide for women with significant tinnitus, the study didn’t draw definitive conclusions as to why women were at greater risk of suicide than men. There are a variety of possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing inherent in the data that singles out any of those explanations as more or less likely.
Here are a few things to pay attention to:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
Most people who experience tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight cases of tinnitus don’t present their own obstacles. But the statistical correlation between suicide and women with tinnitus was most pronounced (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 relatively few individuals were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they displayed moderate to severe symptoms.
This is perhaps the best way to reduce the danger of suicide and other health problems related to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. Here are some of the numerous benefits that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more effectively managed with treatment.
- Hearing loss can be treated and tinnitus is frequently a warning sign.
- Depression is frequently improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus is Connected to Hearing Impairment
Up to 90% of people who experience tinnitus also have hearing impairment according to some studies and managing hearing loss by using hearing aids can help decrease tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. Schedule an appointment to learn if hearing aids could help you.