Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. Coping with the symptoms isn’t the only obstacle. It’s coping with the symptoms constantly never knowing for certain if they will subside. For some individuals, sadly, depression can be the result.
Persistent tinnitus has been associated with a higher instance of suicide, especially among women, according to research published in the Journal of American Medical Association and carried out by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
What’s The Connection Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
So that they can establish any kind of connection between tinnitus and suicide, researchers at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 people (large sample sizes are necessary to produce dependable, scientific final results).
According to the responses they received:
- 22.5% of the participants reported having tinnitus.
- 9% of women with significant tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Of the men with significant tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Only 2.1% of respondents documented that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing specialist.
The differences in suicide rates between men and women are obvious, leading the researchers to bring attention to the increased risks for women. And most people with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t get their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing specialist. Not only are there therapies for tinnitus, many people experience relief by using hearing aids.
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 should take these findings seriously.
What Does This Research Mean?
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 were at greater risk of suicide than men. There are numerous reasons why this might be but the data doesn’t identify any one reason why this might be.
Here are a few things to pay attention to:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of individuals who have experienced tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight instances of tinnitus do not have their own obstacles. But the statistical correlation between women with tinnitus and suicide was most pronounced (and, thus, denotes the biggest risk) with those who rated their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
Maybe the next most startling conclusion in this study is that relatively few individuals were officially diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they had moderate to severe symptoms.
This is probably the best way to reduce the risk of suicide and other health concerns related to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall advantages:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more effectively controlled with treatment.
- Hearing loss can be treated and tinnitus is commonly a warning sign.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus is Associated With 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. In fact, some hearing aids are designed with additional features to improve tinnitus symptoms. To learn if hearing aids can help you, set up an appointment.