Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. Dealing with the symptoms isn’t the only obstacle. It’s coping with the symptoms continuously never knowing for sure if they will subside. For some individuals, unfortunately, depression can be the result.
Chronic tinnitus has been associated with a higher rate of suicide, especially among women, according to research published in the Journal of American Medical Association and conducted by Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC).
Suicide And Tinnitus, What’s The Connection?
Scientists at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 individuals to determine the connection between tinnitus and suicide (Accurate, reliable results require large sample sizes).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of participants.
- 9% of women with extreme tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- 5.5% of men with severe tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- A hearing professional diagnosed tinnitus in just 2.1% of respondents.
The differences in suicide rates between women and men are clear, leading the experts to bring attention to the heightened risks for women. These results also indicate that a significant portion of people experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Many individuals can get relief by using hearing aids and other treatments.
Are These Universal Findings?
This study must be replicated in other areas of the world, with different population sizes, and eliminating other variables before we can make any broad generalizations. That said, we shouldn’t ignore the concern in the meantime.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
While this research suggests an increased risk of suicide for women with severe tinnitus, the study didn’t draw definitive conclusions as to why women were at greater risk of suicide than men. There are numerous possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing inherent in the data that singles out any of those arguments as more or less likely.
Here are a few things to pay attention to:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
Most individuals who notice tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate cases also have their own obstacles, of course. But the statistical correlation between women with tinnitus and suicide was most evident (and, thus, denotes the biggest risk) with those who rated their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Participants Were Diagnosed
Maybe the next most shocking conclusion in this study is that relatively few individuals were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they displayed moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, possibly, the most significant area of possibility and one of the best ways to lower suicide or other health risks simultaneously. Here are some of the numerous benefits that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more effectively controlled with treatment.
- Tinnitus is commonly a sign of hearing impairment, which can (and should) be treated.
- Some treatments also help with depression.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss
It’s estimated that 90 percent of individuals who suffer from tinnitus have hearing loss, and studies suggest that hearing aids help control the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually have features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. To discover if hearing aids can help you, set up an appointment.