Tinnitus, as with many chronic conditions, has a mental health component to it. Coping with the symptoms isn’t the only challenge. It’s finding the inner strength and resiliency to do it on a regular basis without knowing whether they will ever recede for good. Sadly, for some people, tinnitus can bring about depression.
Persistent tinnitus has been connected to a higher instance of suicide, particularly among women, according to research published in the Journal of American Medical Association and carried out by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
What’s The Connection Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
In order to identify any kind of connection between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 individuals (bigger sample sizes are needed to produce dependable, scientific results).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of participants.
- 9% of women with extreme tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- Out of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Just 2.1% of participants 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 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 professional. Many people can get relief by wearing hearing aids and other treatments.
Are These Findings Universal?
This study must be replicated in other parts of the world, with different population sizes, and eliminating other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. That said, we shouldn’t disregard the problem in the meantime.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
While this research points to 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 reasons why this could 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 and foremost, the vast majority of people who have noticed tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean modest or slight cases of tinnitus don’t have their own challenges. But the statistical correlation between women with tinnitus and suicide was most evident (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who described their tinnitus as severe.
Most of The Participants Weren’t Diagnosed
Most of the participants in this study who described moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is probably the next most surprising conclusion.
This is, possibly, the most significant area of opportunity and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health risks simultaneously. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall advantages:
- People who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better control their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is often a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
Up to 90% of people who experience tinnitus also have hearing loss according to some studies and dealing with hearing loss by wearing hearing aids can help reduce tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. To find out if hearing aids can help you, make an appointment.