Tinnitus, as with lots of chronic conditions, has a mental health component to it. It’s not just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s handling the symptoms constantly never knowing for certain if they will subside. For some individuals, unfortunately, depression can be the outcome.
According to research carried out by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, chronic tinnitus has been linked to an increase in suicide cases, especially with women.
Tinnitus And Suicide, What’s The Link?
Researchers at the SPHC questioned about 70,000 individuals to determine the link between suicide and tinnitus (large sample sizes are needed to generate reliable, scientific results).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of participants.
- 9% of women with significant tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- Out of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% 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 experts to bring attention to the heightened risks for women. These findings also indicate that a large portion of individuals experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Not only are there therapies for tinnitus, lots of people experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Findings Universal?
Before any broad generalizations can be determined, this study needs to be replicated in different areas of the world with different variables and population sizes. That said, we shouldn’t disregard the concern in the meantime.
What Does This Research Mean?
While this research points to an elevated risk of suicide for women with severe tinnitus, the study did not draw clear conclusions as to why women were at greater risk of suicide than men. There are various reasons why this might 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 off, the vast majority of those who have experienced tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight instances of tinnitus don’t present their own obstacles. But the suicide risk for women was much more marked for women who reported “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Maybe the next most startling conclusion in this study is that relatively few individuals were officially diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they displayed moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, perhaps, the most significant area of possibility and one of the best ways to reduce suicide or other health risks at the same time. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall benefits:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more efficiently managed with treatment.
- Tinnitus is commonly a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus is Connected to Hearing Loss
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people who suffer from tinnitus have hearing loss, and studies indicate that hearing aids help manage the symptoms of tinnitus. In fact, some hearing aids are made with extra features to help tinnitus symptoms. Schedule an appointment to learn if hearing aids could help you.