Tinnitus, as with lots of chronic conditions, has a mental health element to it. It’s not just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s handling the symptoms constantly never knowing for certain if they will go away. For some individuals, unfortunately, depression can be the outcome.
According to a study carried out 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 rates, especially with women.
What’s The Link Between Suicide And Tinnitus?
Scientists at the SPHC surveyed about 70,000 individuals to establish the link between tinnitus and suicide (large sample sizes are needed to generate dependable, scientific results).
According to the answers they received:
- 22.5% of the participants reported having tinnitus.
- Suicide attempts occurred with 9% of women with significant tinnitus.
- Out of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Just 2.1% of participants reported that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing professional.
The differences in suicide rates between women and men are clear, leading the researchers to bring attention to the increased dangers for women. And most individuals with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t have their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing specialist. Many individuals can get relief by wearing hearing aids and other treatments.
Are These Findings Universal?
This study must be duplicated in other parts of the world, with different sized populations, and eliminating other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. That said, we shouldn’t disregard the concern in the meantime.
What Does This Research Suggest?
While this research indicates an elevated risk of suicide for women with severe tinnitus, the study did not draw definitive conclusions as to why women were at greater risk of suicide than men. There are various reasons why this might 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”
Most people who notice tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight instances of tinnitus do not present their own challenges. But the statistical correlation between women with tinnitus and suicide was most evident (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who described their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
The majority of the respondents in this research who reported moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is possibly the next most surprising conclusion.
This is, possibly, the most important area of possibility and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health concerns simultaneously. Here are some of the many advantages that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more efficiently managed with treatment.
- Hearing impairment can be treated and tinnitus is commonly a warning sign.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus is Associated With Hearing Loss
Up to 90% of individuals who cope with tinnitus also have hearing loss according to some studies and dealing with hearing loss by using hearing aids can help decrease tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. To find out if hearing aids can help you, schedule an appointment.