Tinnitus, as with lots of chronic conditions, has a mental health component to it. It isn’t just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s finding the inner fortitude and resiliency to do it on a regular basis without knowing whether they will ever recede permanently. Sadly, for some people, tinnitus can bring about depression.
According to research carried out by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, chronic tinnitus has been connected to an increase in suicide rates, particularly among women.
What’s The Link Between Tinnitus And Suicide?
Scientists at the SPHC questioned about 70,000 individuals to establish the link between suicide and tinnitus (large sample sizes are needed to produce reliable, scientific results).
Here are some of the results:
- 22.5% of the participants reported experiencing tinnitus.
- 9% of women with severe tinnitus had suicide attempts.
- 5.5% of men with profound tinnitus had attempted suicide.
- A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of respondents.
It’s obvious that women with tinnitus have a higher rate of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. These results also suggest that a large portion of people experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, lots of people experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
Before any broad generalizations can be determined, this study needs to be duplicated in different parts of the world with different variables and population sizes. In the meantime, we need to take these findings seriously.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
The study was inconclusive about why women had an increased suicide rate than men but that was certainly the result. There are a variety of possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing intrinsic in the data that points towards any of those explanations as more or less likely.
Some things to take note of:
Some Tinnitus is Not “Severe”
First off, the vast majority of people who have experienced tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. Moderate instances also present their own challenges, of course. 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 Respondents Were Diagnosed
Most 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 lower suicide or other health concerns simultaneously. Here are some of the many benefits that can come from tinnitus treatment:
- Tinnitus symptoms can be more effectively controlled with treatment.
- Hearing impairment can be treated and tinnitus is commonly a warning sign.
- Depression is frequently improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of people with tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies suggest that hearing aids help regulate the symptoms of tinnitus. As a matter of fact, some hearing aids are designed with added features to improve tinnitus symptoms. To find out if hearing aids can help you, set up an appointment.