Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. Coping with the symptoms isn’t the only challenge. It’s finding the inner fortitude and resilience to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever recede permanently. For some individuals, unfortunately, depression can be the outcome.
According to a study conducted 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 cases, especially among women.
Suicide And Tinnitus, What’s The Link?
Researchers at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 people to determine the connection between suicide and tinnitus (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the responses they received:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of participants.
- 9% of women with extreme tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- 5.5% of men with severe tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in just 2.1% of respondents.
The differences in suicide rates between men and women are obvious, leading the experts to call out the increased risks for women. These results also suggest that a large portion of people suffering from tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional assistance. Many individuals can get relief by using hearing aids and other treatments.
Are These Universal Findings?
This research must be replicated in other parts of the world, with different population sizes, and ruling out other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. In the meantime, we need to take these findings seriously.
What Does This Research Suggest?
The study was inconclusive about why women had an increased suicide rate than men but that was certainly the result. There are a variety of possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing inherent in the data that singles out any of those explanations as more or less likely.
Here are a few things to pay attention to:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
Most individuals who experience tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight instances of tinnitus don’t offer their own challenges. But the suicide risk for women was far more marked for women who reported “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were 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 shocking conclusion.
This is, perhaps, the most significant area of possibility and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health concerns at the same time. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall advantages:
- People who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better manage their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is commonly a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of individuals with tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies suggest that hearing aids help manage the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. To discover if hearing aids can help you, make an appointment.