As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health element to tinnitus. It’s not just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s coping with the symptoms continuously never knowing for certain if they will subside. For some individuals, 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, particularly among women.
What’s The Connection Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
Researchers at the SPHC questioned about 70,000 individuals to determine the connection between tinnitus and suicide (bigger sample sizes are necessary to produce dependable, scientific results).
Here are some of the results:
- 22.5% of the participants reported having tinnitus.
- Suicide attempts occurred with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- Of the men with significant tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of respondents.
It’s clear that women with tinnitus have a higher instance of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. These results also suggest that a significant portion of people experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Many individuals can get relief by using hearing aids and other treatments.
Are These Universal Findings?
This research must be replicated in other areas of the world, with different sized populations, and eliminating other variables before we can come to any broad generalizations. That said, we shouldn’t disregard the problem in the meantime.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
The study was inconclusive about why women had a higher suicide rate than men but that was definitely the result. There are numerous reasons why this could be but the data doesn’t identify 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 individuals who have noticed tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean modest or slight instances of tinnitus don’t present their own obstacles. But the suicide risk for women was significantly more pronounced for women who reported “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Possibly the next most shocking conclusion in this study is that fairly few people were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they displayed moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, perhaps, the most significant area of opportunity and one of the best ways to lower suicide or other health concerns at the same time. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall advantages:
- People who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better control their symptoms.
- Hearing loss can be treated and tinnitus is commonly a warning sign.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss
It’s estimated that 90 percent of individuals who suffer from tinnitus have hearing loss, and studies indicate that hearing aids help regulate the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. To find out if hearing aids can help you, schedule an appointment.