Tinnitus, like lots of chronic conditions, has a mental health element to it. Dealing with the symptoms isn’t the only obstacle. It’s coping with the symptoms constantly never knowing for certain if they will subside. For some people, unfortunately, depression can be the result.
Chronic tinnitus has been linked to a higher rate of suicide, especially in women, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association and conducted by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
What’s The Link Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
Scientists at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people to establish the connection between tinnitus and suicide (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
Here are some of the results:
- 22.5% of the respondents reported experiencing tinnitus.
- 9% of women with significant tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- Of the men with significant tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Just 2.1% of participants documented that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing specialist.
The differences in suicide rates between men and women are clear, leading the experts to call out the increased risks for women. These results also suggest that a large portion of people experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional assistance. Many people can get relief by using hearing aids and other therapies.
Are These Findings Universal?
Before any broad generalizations can be made, this study needs to be duplicated in different areas of the world with different variables and population sizes. In the meantime, we should take these findings seriously.
What Does This Research Mean?
While this research suggests an elevated risk of suicide for women with severe tinnitus, the study did not draw definitive conclusions as to why women were at greater risk of suicide than men. There are a variety of possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing intrinsic in the data that points towards any of those arguments as more or less likely.
Some things to take note of:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
First off, the vast majority of individuals who have noticed tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate instances also present their own obstacles, of course. But the suicide risk for women was much more marked for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
Possibly the next most startling conclusion in this study is that relatively few individuals were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they had moderate to severe symptoms.
This is possibly the best way to decrease the risk of suicide and other health concerns connected to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall benefits:
- Individuals who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better regulate their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is commonly a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people with tinnitus have hearing loss, and studies indicate that hearing aids help manage the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. Schedule an appointment to learn if hearing aids could help you.