Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health element to tinnitus. It isn’t just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s coping with the symptoms constantly never knowing for sure if they will subside. Unfortunately, for some, tinnitus can cause depression.
Persistent tinnitus has been connected to a higher instance of suicide, especially among women, according to research published in the Journal of American Medical Association and conducted by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
What’s The Link Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
So that they can identify any type of link between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people (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 severe tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- Out of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- A hearing professional diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of participants.
The differences in suicide rates between women and men are obvious, leading the researchers to bring attention to the heightened risks for women. These results also suggest that a significant 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 treatments.
Are These Universal Findings?
This research must be replicated in other parts of the world, with different sized populations, and eliminating other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. In the meantime, we need to take these findings seriously.
What Does This Research Suggest?
While this research points to an elevated risk of suicide for women with significant tinnitus, the study didn’t draw definitive conclusions as to why women had a higher risk of suicide than men. There are numerous reasons why this could be but the data doesn’t identify any one reason why this might be.
Here are a few things to pay attention to:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of individuals who have experienced tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate cases also present their own obstacles, of course. But the suicide risk for women was much more pronounced for women who reported “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Most of The Participants Weren’t Diagnosed
Most 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 probably the best way to reduce the risk of suicide and other health problems related to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall benefits:
- People who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better manage their symptoms.
- Hearing loss can be treated and tinnitus is commonly a warning sign.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people with tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies suggest that hearing aids help manage the symptoms of tinnitus. As a matter of fact, some hearing aids are made with additional features to help tinnitus symptoms. To find out if hearing aids can help you, make an appointment.