As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health element to tinnitus. It’s not just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner fortitude and resiliency to do it on a regular basis without knowing whether they will ever go away for good. Regrettably, for some people, tinnitus can cause depression.
According to a study 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 with women.
What’s The Connection Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
Researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people to establish the link between tinnitus and suicide (large sample sizes are necessary to generate reliable, scientific results).
According to the responses they got back:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of respondents.
- 9% of women with extreme tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Just 2.1% of participants documented that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing professional.
The differences in suicide rates between women and men are clear, leading the researchers to call out the increased dangers for women. These findings also suggest that a significant portion of individuals experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Many individuals can get relief by using hearing aids and other treatments.
Are These Findings Universal?
This research must be replicated in other parts of the world, with different population sizes, 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 Suggest?
While this research indicates an elevated 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 various reasons why this could be but the data doesn’t identify any one reason why this might be.
Here are some things to pay attention to:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of people who have noticed tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate cases also present their own challenges, of course. But the suicide risk for women was far more marked for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Most of The Participants Weren’t Diagnosed
The majority of the respondents in this study who described moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is possibly the next most surprising conclusion.
This is, possibly, the most significant area of opportunity and one of the best ways to lower suicide or other health risks at the same time. Here are a few of the many benefits that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- People who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better regulate their symptoms.
- Hearing loss can be treated and tinnitus is commonly a warning sign.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus is Associated With Hearing Loss
Up to 90% of people who cope with tinnitus also have hearing impairment according to some studies and dealing with hearing loss by using hearing aids can help minimize 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, schedule an appointment.