As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health component to tinnitus. it isn’t just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s handling the symptoms constantly never knowing for certain if they will go away. For some people, sadly, depression can be the outcome.
Chronic tinnitus has been linked to a higher rate of suicide, especially among women, according to research published in the Journal of American Medical Association and conducted by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
Tinnitus And Suicide, What’s The Link?
So that they can establish any type of link between suicide and tinnitus, researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people (large sample sizes are needed to generate dependable, scientific final results).
According to the responses they received:
- 22.5% of the participants reported experiencing tinnitus.
- 9% of women with significant tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- 5.5% of men with severe tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in just 2.1% of participants.
The differences in suicide rates between men and women are obvious, leading the researchers to call out the increased risks for women. And most individuals with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t have their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing professional. Not only are there therapies for tinnitus, many people experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
This research must be replicated in other areas of the world, with different sized populations, and eliminating other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. In the meantime, we should take these findings seriously.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
While this research indicates an increased 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 various reasons why this could be but the data doesn’t pinpoint any one reason why this might be.
Here are a few things to pay attention to:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of those who have experienced tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight instances of tinnitus do not offer their own challenges. But the statistical correlation between suicide and women with tinnitus was most evident (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who rated their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
Perhaps the next most shocking conclusion in this research is that fairly few people were officially diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they presented moderate to severe symptoms.
This is perhaps the best way to decrease the danger of suicide and other health concerns related to tinnitus and hearing impairment in general. Here are a few of the numerous advantages that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more efficiently controlled with treatment.
- Tinnitus is often a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus is Linked to Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people with tinnitus have hearing loss, and studies suggest that hearing aids help control the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. Schedule an appointment to find out if hearing aids might help you.