Tinnitus, like many chronic conditions, has a mental health aspect to it. Coping with the symptoms isn’t the only obstacle. It’s coping with the symptoms constantly never knowing for certain if they will subside. Sadly, for some people, tinnitus can bring about depression.
Chronic tinnitus has been associated with a higher instance of suicide, particularly among women, according to a study 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 about 70,000 individuals to establish the link between tinnitus and suicide (large sample sizes are needed to produce dependable, scientific final results).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of respondents.
- 9% of women with severe tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- Out of the men with significant tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- Only 2.1% of participants documented 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 call out the increased risks for women. And most people with tinnitus symptoms, according to this research, don’t get their tinnitus diagnosed by a hearing specialist. Not only are there therapies for tinnitus, lots of individuals experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
This research must be duplicated in other parts of the world, with different sized populations, and eliminating other variables before we can come to any broad generalizations. In the meantime, we need to take these findings seriously.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
While this research suggests 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 numerous reasons why this might be but the data doesn’t identify any one reason why this might be.
Some things to take note of:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
Most individuals who notice tinnitus symptoms don’t have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate instances also present their own challenges, of course. But the statistical correlation between women with tinnitus and suicide was most pronounced (and, thus, denotes the greatest risk) with those who rated their tinnitus as severe.
Low Numbers of Respondents Were Diagnosed
Possibly the next most shocking conclusion in this study is that relatively few people were actually diagnosed with tinnitus, even though they presented moderate to severe symptoms.
This is, possibly, the most significant area of opportunity and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health concerns simultaneously. Here are some of the numerous advantages that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- Those who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better regulate their symptoms.
- Hearing impairment can be treated and tinnitus is often 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 managing hearing loss by using hearing aids can help minimize tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that target the symptoms of tinnitus. To discover if hearing aids can help you, make an appointment.