Tinnitus, like lots of chronic conditions, has a mental health element to it. Coping with the symptoms isn’t the only challenge. It’s coping with the symptoms constantly never knowing for certain if they will subside. For some people, unfortunately, depression can be the result.
According to research conducted by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, chronic tinnitus has been associated with an increase in suicide cases, especially with women.
Tinnitus And Suicide, What’s The Connection?
Researchers at the SPHC questioned about 70,000 people to establish the connection between suicide and tinnitus (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the responses they got back:
- 22.5% of the respondents reported having tinnitus.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- A hearing professional diagnosed tinnitus in just 2.1% of participants.
It’s clear that women with tinnitus have a higher instance of suicide and researchers are attempting to raise awareness for them. And most individuals with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t get their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing specialist. Many individuals can get relief by using hearing aids and other therapies.
Are These Findings Universal?
Before any broad generalizations can be made, this study needs to be repeated in different parts of the world with different variables and population sizes. That said, we shouldn’t ignore the problem in the meantime.
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 had a higher risk of suicide than men. There are a variety of possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing intrinsic in the data that singles out any of those arguments 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 have their own challenges. But the suicide risk for women was far more pronounced for women who reported “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Most of The Respondents Weren’t Diagnosed
Perhaps the next most startling conclusion in this research is that relatively few individuals were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they displayed moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, possibly, the most important area of opportunity and one of the best ways to reduce suicide or other health concerns simultaneously. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall benefits:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more efficiently controlled with treatment.
- Tinnitus is frequently a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus is Associated With Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of individuals who suffer from tinnitus have hearing loss, and studies suggest that hearing aids help control 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.