Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. It’s not just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner strength and resilience to do it on a regular basis without knowing whether they will ever recede for good. Sadly, for some people, tinnitus can result in depression.
According to research conducted by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, persistent tinnitus has been connected to an increase in suicide rates, especially among women.
What’s The Connection Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
So that they can establish any type of connection between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of respondents.
- Suicide attempts occurred with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- Of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Just 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 instance of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. And most people with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t get their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing professional. Many people 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 ruling out other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. In the meantime, we should take these findings seriously.
What Does This Research Mean?
While this research indicates an increased risk of suicide for women with significant tinnitus, the study did not draw clear conclusions as to why women had a higher risk of suicide than men. There are various reasons why this might be but the data doesn’t pinpoint any one reason why this might be.
Some things to take note of:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
Most people who notice tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate cases also present their own obstacles, of course. But the suicide risk for women was far more pronounced for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Possibly the next most shocking conclusion in this study is that relatively few individuals were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they displayed moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, perhaps, the most significant area of possibility and one of the best ways to reduce suicide or other health risks at the same time. Here are some of the many advantages that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more effectively controlled with treatment.
- Tinnitus is frequently a sign of hearing impairment, 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 manage the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. To find out if hearing aids can help you, make an appointment.