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 handling the symptoms continuously never knowing for certain if they will go away. Unfortunately, for some, tinnitus can bring about depression.
Chronic tinnitus has been linked to a higher instance of suicide, especially in women, according to research published in the Journal of American Medical Association and carried out by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
Tinnitus And Suicide, What’s The Connection?
Scientists at the SPHC questioned about 70,000 people to establish the connection between tinnitus and suicide (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
Here are some of the results:
- 22.5% of the participants reported having tinnitus.
- 9% of women with significant tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- 5.5% of men with severe tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- A hearing professional diagnosed tinnitus in just 2.1% of participants.
It’s clear that women with tinnitus have a higher instance of suicide and researchers are attempting to raise awareness for them. These results also indicate that a significant 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 Universal Findings?
This study must be replicated in other areas 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 Does This Research Suggest?
While this research suggests an increased risk of suicide for women with severe tinnitus, the study didn’t draw clear conclusions as to why women had a higher risk of suicide than men. There are numerous possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing intrinsic in the data that points towards any of those explanations as more or less likely.
Here are some things to pay attention to:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
First off, the vast majority of individuals who have experienced tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate cases also have their own challenges, of course. But the statistical correlation between women with tinnitus and suicide was most pronounced (and, thus, denotes the biggest risk) with those who rated their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
Most of the respondents in this study who described moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is probably the next most surprising conclusion.
This is perhaps the best way to minimize the danger of suicide and other health concerns linked to tinnitus and hearing impairment in general. Here are some of the many advantages that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- Individuals who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better regulate their symptoms.
- Hearing impairment can be treated and tinnitus is frequently a warning sign.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss
Up to 90% of individuals who experience tinnitus also have hearing impairment according to some studies and managing hearing loss by using hearing aids can help reduce tinnitus symptoms. In fact, some hearing aids are designed with added features to help tinnitus symptoms. To learn if hearing aids can help you, schedule an appointment.