As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health element to tinnitus. It’s not just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner strength and resilience to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever go away once and for all. For some people, sadly, depression can be the outcome.
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 connected to an increase in suicide cases, especially among women.
What’s The Link Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
So that they can identify any kind of link between suicide and tinnitus, researchers at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 individuals (bigger sample sizes are needed to produce dependable, scientific results).
Here are some of the results:
- 22.5% of the respondents reported having tinnitus.
- 9% of women with severe tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- Out of the men with significant tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- A hearing professional diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of participants.
The differences in suicide rates between men and women are obvious, leading the experts to bring attention to the heightened risks for women. 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 wearing hearing aids and other treatments.
Are These Findings Universal?
Before any broad generalizations can be made, this study needs to be duplicated in different areas of the world with different variables and population sizes. 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 a higher suicide rate than men but that was certainly the result. There are various reasons why this could be but the data doesn’t pinpoint any one reason why this might be.
Here are a few things to pay attention to:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
First off, the vast majority of people who have experienced tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate cases also have their own obstacles, of course. But the statistical connection between suicide and women with tinnitus was most evident (and, thus, denotes the biggest risk) with those who described their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Possibly the next most surprising conclusion in this research is that fairly few individuals were officially diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they had moderate to severe symptoms.
This is perhaps the best way to reduce the risk of suicide and other health problems connected to tinnitus and hearing impairment in general. Here are a few of the many benefits that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more efficiently managed with treatment.
- Tinnitus is commonly a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
Up to 90% of individuals who experience tinnitus also have hearing loss according to some studies and dealing with hearing loss by wearing hearing aids can help minimize tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. Schedule an appointment to find out if hearing aids could help you.