Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health element to tinnitus. It isn’t just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner fortitude and resilience to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever go away permanently. For some individuals, sadly, depression can be the outcome.
Chronic tinnitus has been connected to a higher rate of suicide, especially among women, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association and conducted by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
What’s The Link Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
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 necessary to produce reliable, scientific results).
According to the answers they got back:
- 22.5% of the participants reported experiencing tinnitus.
- 9% of women with extreme tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in just 2.1% of participants.
The differences in suicide rates between women and men are clear, leading the researchers to call out the increased dangers for women. And most people with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t have their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing professional. Many people can get relief by wearing hearing aids and other treatments.
Are These Universal Findings?
Before any broad generalizations can be determined, this study needs to be duplicated in different areas of the world with different variables and population sizes. That being said, we shouldn’t disregard the problem in the meantime.
What Does This Research Mean?
While this research suggests an increased risk of suicide for women with significant tinnitus, the study didn’t draw clear conclusions as to why women had a higher risk of suicide than men. There are a variety of possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing intrinsic in the data that singles out any of those arguments as more or less likely.
Some things to take note of:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
Most individuals who notice tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight cases of tinnitus do not present their own challenges. But the statistical connection between women with tinnitus and suicide was most pronounced (and, thus, denotes the biggest risk) with those who rated their tinnitus as severe.
Most of The Participants Weren’t Diagnosed
The majority of the participants in this study who reported moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is perhaps the next most surprising conclusion.
This is perhaps the best way to reduce the danger of suicide and other health problems linked to tinnitus and hearing impairment in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall advantages:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more efficiently managed with treatment.
- Tinnitus is commonly a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people with tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies suggest that hearing aids help control the symptoms of tinnitus. In fact, some hearing aids are made with added features to improve tinnitus symptoms. To find out if hearing aids can help you, schedule an appointment.