As with many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health element to tinnitus. Coping with the symptoms isn’t the only challenge. It’s handling the symptoms constantly never knowing for certain if they will subside. For some individuals, unfortunately, depression can be the result.
Persistent tinnitus has been linked to a higher instance of suicide, particularly in women, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association and performed by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
What’s The Link Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
Scientists at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 individuals to establish the connection between suicide and tinnitus (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the responses they got back:
- Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of respondents.
- Suicide attempts occurred with 9% of women with severe tinnitus.
- 5.5% of men with severe tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- A hearing professional diagnosed tinnitus in just 2.1% of respondents.
It’s clear that women with tinnitus have a higher instance of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. And most people with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t get their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing professional. Many people can get relief by using hearing aids and other treatments.
Are These Findings Universal?
Before any broad generalizations can be determined, this study needs to be replicated in different parts of the world with different variables and population sizes. In the meantime, we should take these findings seriously.
What Does This Research Suggest?
While this research points to an increased risk of suicide for women with significant tinnitus, the study did not draw clear conclusions as to why women were at greater risk of suicide than men. There are various reasons why this could be but the data doesn’t pinpoint any one reason why this might be.
Here are some things to pay attention to:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
Most individuals who experience tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate instances also present their own challenges, of course. But the suicide risk for women was much more pronounced for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Participants Were 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 surprising conclusion.
This is probably the best way to decrease 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:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more efficiently managed with treatment.
- Hearing impairment can be treated and tinnitus is often a warning sign.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people with tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies indicate that hearing aids help control the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. Make an appointment to find out if hearing aids could help you.