As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. It’s not just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s handling the symptoms continuously never knowing for sure if they will subside. Unfortunately, for some, tinnitus can cause depression.
According to research carried out by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, persistent tinnitus has been linked to an increase in suicide rates, particularly among women.
Tinnitus And Suicide, What’s The Connection?
Scientists at the SPHC questioned around 70,000 people to establish the connection between tinnitus and suicide (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
Here are some of the results:
- 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 suicide attempts.
- Only 2.1% of participants documented that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing professional.
The differences in suicide rates between men and women are obvious, leading the experts to call out the heightened dangers for women. These findings also indicate that a large portion of individuals experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Many people can get relief by wearing hearing aids and other therapies.
Are These Findings Universal?
Before any broad generalizations can be made, this study needs to be repeated in different areas of the world with different variables and population sizes. In the meantime, we should take these findings seriously.
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 definitely the result. There are numerous 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 instances also have their own obstacles, of course. But the suicide risk for women was far more marked for women who reported “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Possibly the next most startling conclusion in this study is that relatively few individuals were officially diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they had moderate to severe symptoms.
This is possibly the best way to minimize the danger of suicide and other health problems related to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall advantages:
- Those who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better control their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is commonly a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is frequently improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus is Linked to Hearing Loss
It’s estimated that 90 percent of individuals who suffer from tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies indicate that hearing aids help manage the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. Schedule an appointment to find out if hearing aids might help you.