Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health component to tinnitus. It’s not just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s handling the symptoms constantly never knowing for certain if they will subside. For some individuals, regrettably, depression can be the result.
Persistent tinnitus has been associated with a higher rate of suicide, especially in women, according to research published in the Journal of American Medical Association and conducted by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
Tinnitus And Suicide, What’s The Link?
So that they can establish any type of link between suicide and tinnitus, researchers at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 individuals (large sample sizes are needed to produce dependable, scientific final results).
According to the answers they got back:
- 22.5% of the respondents reported having tinnitus.
- Suicide attempts happened with 9% of women with significant tinnitus.
- Out of the men with significant tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in just 2.1% of respondents.
The differences in suicide rates between men and women are obvious, leading the researchers to bring attention to the increased dangers for women. And most people with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t have their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing specialist. Many individuals 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 repeated in different areas of the world with different variables and population sizes. That said, we shouldn’t ignore the concern in the meantime.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
While this research indicates 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 a variety of possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing inherent in the data that singles out any of those arguments as more or less likely.
Some things to take note of:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of individuals who have experienced tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate cases also have their own challenges, of course. But the suicide risk for women was significantly more marked for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Maybe the next most surprising conclusion in this study is that relatively few people were officially diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they presented moderate to severe symptoms.
This is perhaps the best way to decrease the risk of suicide and other health problems linked to tinnitus and hearing impairment in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall benefits:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more effectively controlled with treatment.
- Tinnitus is frequently a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of individuals with tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies suggest 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 learn if hearing aids could help you.