As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. It’s not 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 permanently. For some people, unfortunately, depression can be the result.
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 linked to an increase in suicide cases, especially among women.
What’s The Link Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
Scientists at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people to determine the connection between tinnitus and suicide (large sample sizes are needed to generate dependable, scientific final results).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of participants.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- Out of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Just 2.1% of participants reported 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. These results also suggest that a large portion of individuals experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Many people can get relief by using hearing aids and other treatments.
Are These Findings Universal?
Before any broad generalizations can be made, this study needs to be repeated in different areas of the world with different variables and population sizes. In the meantime, we need to take these findings seriously.
What Does This Research Suggest?
The study was inconclusive about why women had an increased suicide rate than men but that was definitely the result. 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.
Some things to take note of:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
First off, the vast majority of individuals who have experienced tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate cases also have their own challenges, of course. But the suicide risk for women was significantly more pronounced for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Possibly the next most shocking conclusion in this research is that fairly few individuals were officially diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they presented moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, possibly, the most important area of opportunity and one of the best ways to lower suicide or other health concerns simultaneously. Here are a few of the numerous benefits that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- Those who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better control their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is often a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus is Linked to Hearing Loss
It’s estimated that 90 percent of individuals who suffer from tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies indicate that hearing aids help regulate the symptoms of tinnitus. As a matter of fact, some hearing aids are made with added features to improve tinnitus symptoms. Schedule an appointment to learn if hearing aids might help you.