Tinnitus, as with lots of chronic conditions, has a mental health aspect to it. It isn’t just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner fortitude and resilience to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever recede permanently. Sadly, for some people, tinnitus can cause depression.
Chronic tinnitus has been linked to a higher instance of suicide, especially in women, according to research published in the Journal of American Medical Association and performed by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
What’s The Connection Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
In order to establish any type of link between suicide and tinnitus, researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people (bigger sample sizes are needed to generate dependable, scientific final results).
According to the answers they received:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of respondents.
- Suicide attempts occurred with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- 5.5% of men with severe tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of respondents.
The differences in suicide rates between women and men are clear, leading the researchers to bring attention to the heightened risks for women. And most individuals with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t have their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing specialist. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, many individuals experience relief by using hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
This research must be duplicated in other areas of the world, with different population sizes, and ruling out other variables before we can come to any broad generalizations. In the meantime, we should take these findings seriously.
What Does This Research Suggest?
While this research suggests an increased 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 numerous possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing intrinsic in the data that singles out any of those explanations as more or less likely.
Some things to take note of:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of those who have experienced tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate instances also have their own obstacles, of course. But the statistical connection between suicide and women with tinnitus was most evident (and, thus, denotes the biggest risk) with those who described their tinnitus as severe.
Most of The Participants Weren’t 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, perhaps, the most important area of opportunity and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health concerns simultaneously. Here are some of the many benefits that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more efficiently managed with treatment.
- Hearing impairment can be treated and tinnitus is often a warning sign.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
Up to 90% of people who experience tinnitus also have hearing loss according to some studies and managing hearing loss by wearing hearing aids can help decrease tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. To learn if hearing aids can help you, schedule an appointment.