Tinnitus, as with many chronic conditions, has a mental health aspect to it. Dealing with the symptoms isn’t the only challenge. It’s finding the inner strength and resilience to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever go away once and for all. For some individuals, regrettably, depression can be the result.
According to research conducted by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, chronic tinnitus has been associated with an increase in suicide cases, especially among women.
What’s The Link Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
Researchers at the SPHC questioned around 70,000 people to determine the connection between tinnitus and suicide (bigger sample sizes are necessary to produce reliable, scientific results).
According to the answers they received:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of participants.
- 9% of women with severe tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Only 2.1% of participants documented that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing professional.
It’s obvious that women with tinnitus have a higher rate of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. And most individuals with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t have their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing specialist. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, lots of people experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
This research must be duplicated in other areas of the world, with different sized populations, and ruling out other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. That said, we shouldn’t ignore the problem in the meantime.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
While this research points to an elevated risk of suicide for women with severe tinnitus, the study did not 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 inherent in the data that singles out any of those arguments as more or less likely.
Here are some things to pay attention to:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of individuals who have experienced tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate instances also present their own challenges, of course. But the suicide risk for women was much more pronounced for women who reported “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Possibly the next most startling conclusion in this research is that relatively few individuals were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they displayed moderate to severe symptoms.
This is probably the best way to reduce the risk of suicide and other health problems connected to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. Here are a few of the many advantages that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- Those who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better manage their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is commonly a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
Up to 90% of people who experience tinnitus also have hearing impairment according to some studies and managing 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 improve tinnitus symptoms. To find out if hearing aids can help you, set up an appointment.