Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. It’s not just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s coping with the symptoms constantly never knowing for certain if they will go away. For some individuals, sadly, 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, chronic tinnitus has been associated with an increase in suicide rates, particularly among women.
What’s The Link Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
In order to identify any type of connection between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 people (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
Here are some of the results:
- 22.5% of the participants reported experiencing tinnitus.
- 9% of women with significant tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Of the men with significant tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Only 2.1% of participants documented that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing specialist.
It’s obvious 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 large portion of people suffering from tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional assistance. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, many individuals experience relief by using hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
This study must be replicated in other parts of the world, with different sized populations, and ruling out other variables before we can come to any broad generalizations. That said, we shouldn’t ignore the concern in the meantime.
What Does This Research Suggest?
The study was inconclusive about why women had a higher suicide rate than men but that was definitely the result. There are various reasons why this might be but the data doesn’t identify any one reason why this might be.
Some things to take note of:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
Most people who notice tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight cases of tinnitus do not present their own obstacles. But the statistical correlation between women with tinnitus and suicide was most evident (and, thus, denotes the biggest risk) with those who rated their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
Most of the participants in this study who described moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is possibly the next most shocking conclusion.
This is, possibly, the most significant area of opportunity and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health risks at the same time. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall benefits:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more efficiently managed with treatment.
- Tinnitus is often a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people with tinnitus have hearing loss, and studies suggest that hearing aids help control the symptoms of tinnitus. In fact, some hearing aids are made with additional features to improve tinnitus symptoms. Schedule an appointment to find out if hearing aids could help you.