Tinnitus, as with lots of chronic conditions, has a mental health component to it. It’s not just a matter of dealing with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner strength and resiliency to do it on a regular basis without knowing whether they will ever go away for good. Unfortunately, for some, tinnitus can bring about depression.
Persistent tinnitus has been associated with a higher instance of suicide, particularly in women, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association and carried out by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
What’s The Link Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
Scientists at the SPHC questioned around 70,000 individuals to determine the connection between tinnitus and suicide (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
According to the answers they got back:
- 22.5% of the participants reported experiencing tinnitus.
- 9% of women with extreme tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Of the men with significant tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Just 2.1% of participants reported that their tinnitus had been diagnosed by a hearing specialist.
It’s clear that women with tinnitus have a higher instance of suicide and researchers are attempting to raise awareness for them. These results also indicate that a large portion of individuals experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Many individuals can get relief by wearing hearing aids and other therapies.
Are These Findings Universal?
Before any broad generalizations can be made, 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’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
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 had a higher risk of suicide than men. There are numerous possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing intrinsic in the data that singles out any of those arguments as more or less likely.
Some things to take note of:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of people who have experienced tinnitus don’t have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean modest or slight instances of tinnitus don’t have their own challenges. But the statistical correlation between suicide and women with tinnitus was most pronounced (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who described their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
Most of the participants in this study who reported moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is perhaps the next most shocking conclusion.
This is perhaps the best way to decrease the risk of suicide and other health concerns related to tinnitus and hearing loss in general. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall advantages:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more efficiently controlled with treatment.
- Hearing impairment can be treated and tinnitus is often a warning sign.
- Depression is often improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus is Associated With Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of individuals with tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies suggest that hearing aids help regulate the symptoms of tinnitus. 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.