Tinnitus, as with many chronic conditions, has a mental health aspect to it. It’s not just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s handling the symptoms continuously 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 instance of suicide, particularly among women, according to research published in the Journal of American Medical Association and performed by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
Suicide And Tinnitus, What’s The Connection?
Scientists at the SPHC questioned about 70,000 people to determine the connection between tinnitus and suicide (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the responses they got back:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of respondents.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- A hearing professional diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of participants.
It’s clear that women with tinnitus have a higher instance of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. These findings also suggest that a large portion of individuals suffering from tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Not only are there therapies for tinnitus, many people experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Findings Universal?
This research must be replicated in other areas of the world, with different sized populations, and ruling out other variables before we can come to any broad generalizations. In the meantime, we need to take these findings seriously.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
The study was inconclusive about why women had an increased suicide rate than men but that was certainly the result. There are numerous reasons why this might be but the data doesn’t pinpoint any one reason why this might be.
Here are some 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. Moderate cases also present their own obstacles, of course. But the suicide risk for women was much more marked for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Most of The Respondents Weren’t Diagnosed
The majority of the participants in this study who described moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is possibly the next most surprising conclusion.
This is, perhaps, the most significant area of opportunity and one of the best ways to reduce suicide or other health concerns simultaneously. Here are some of the many advantages that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- People who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better control their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is often a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus is Associated With Hearing Loss
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people with tinnitus have hearing loss, and studies indicate that hearing aids help regulate the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. To learn if hearing aids can help you, make an appointment.