Tinnitus, like many chronic conditions, has a mental health element to it. It isn’t just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner strength and resilience to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever recede permanently. For some people, unfortunately, depression can be the result.
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, especially with women.
What’s The Link Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
So that they can establish any kind of link between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 individuals (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the responses they got back:
- 22.5% of the respondents reported having tinnitus.
- 9% of women with severe tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- 5.5% of men with severe tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of participants.
The differences in suicide rates between women and men are obvious, leading the experts to bring attention to the increased dangers for women. These results also suggest that a large portion of individuals suffering from tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional assistance. Many people can get relief by using hearing aids and other treatments.
Are These Findings Universal?
Before any broad generalizations can be determined, this study needs to be replicated in different parts of the world with different variables and population sizes. That said, we shouldn’t ignore 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 certainly the result. There are various 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 people who have experienced tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean modest or slight instances of tinnitus do not present their own challenges. But the suicide risk for women was much more marked for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
The majority of the respondents in this study who reported moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is possibly the next most surprising conclusion.
This is, perhaps, the most significant area of opportunity and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health concerns simultaneously. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall advantages:
- Individuals who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better regulate their symptoms.
- Hearing impairment can be treated and tinnitus is commonly a warning sign.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus is Connected to Hearing Loss
Up to 90% of people who experience tinnitus also have hearing impairment according to some studies and dealing with hearing loss by using hearing aids can help minimize tinnitus symptoms. In fact, some hearing aids are made with added features to improve tinnitus symptoms. Schedule an appointment to find out if hearing aids could help you.