As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. It isn’t just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s coping with the symptoms constantly never knowing for sure if they will go away. For some people, regrettably, depression can be the outcome.
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 associated with an increase in suicide cases, especially among women.
Suicide And Tinnitus, What’s The Link?
In order to identify any kind of link between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people (bigger sample sizes are needed to generate reliable, scientific final results).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of participants.
- 9% of women with extreme tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- Of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Only 2.1% of respondents reported that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing professional.
The differences in suicide rates between men and women are clear, leading the experts to bring attention to the increased dangers for women. These findings also suggest that a large portion of people experiencing 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?
This research must be replicated in other parts of the world, with different sized populations, and eliminating 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?
The study was inconclusive about why women had an increased suicide rate than men but that was certainly the result. There are a variety of possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing inherent in the data that points towards any of those explanations as more or less likely.
Some things to take note of:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
Most people who notice tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate cases also have their own challenges, of course. 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
Possibly the next most startling conclusion in this study is that fairly few people were officially diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they had moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, perhaps, the most significant area of opportunity and one of the best ways to reduce suicide or other health concerns simultaneously. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall advantages:
- Those who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better regulate their symptoms.
- Hearing loss can be treated and tinnitus is often a warning sign.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus is Associated With Hearing Impairment
Up to 90% of individuals who cope with tinnitus also have hearing loss according to some studies and dealing with hearing loss by using hearing aids can help reduce tinnitus symptoms. As a matter of fact, some hearing aids are designed with added features to help tinnitus symptoms. To find out if hearing aids can help you, make an appointment.