Hearing Health Blog

Woman holding her head from ringing in the ears and looking depressed.

Tinnitus, as with many chronic conditions, has a mental health component to it. Dealing with the symptoms isn’t the only obstacle. It’s finding the inner strength and resilience to do it regularly without knowing whether they will ever recede once and for all. Unfortunately, for some people, tinnitus can lead to depression.

According to research carried out by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, persistent tinnitus has been linked to an increase in suicide rates, particularly among women.

What’s The Connection Between Suicide And Tinnitus?

Researchers at the SPHC questioned about 70,000 people to establish the link between suicide and tinnitus (large sample sizes are needed to produce dependable, scientific final results).

Here are some of the results:

  • Tinnitus symptoms were described by 22.5% of respondents.
  • 9% of women with severe tinnitus had suicide attempts.
  • Of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
  • A hearing specialist diagnosed tinnitus in only 2.1% of respondents.

It’s obvious that women with tinnitus have a higher instance of suicide and researchers are attempting to raise awareness for them. These findings also suggest that a significant portion of individuals experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional assistance. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, many people experience relief by wearing hearing aids.

Are These Findings Universal?

This study must be replicated in other areas of the world, with different population sizes, and ruling out other variables before we can come to any broad generalizations. In the meantime, we need to take these findings seriously.

What Does This Research Mean?

The study was inconclusive about why women had a higher suicide rate than men but that was certainly the result. There are various reasons why this might be but the data doesn’t pinpoint any one reason why this might be.

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 have their own challenges, of course. But the statistical connection between suicide and women with tinnitus was most pronounced (and, thus, denotes the biggest risk) with those who described their tinnitus as severe.

Most of The Participants Weren’t Diagnosed

Most of the respondents in this study who reported moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is perhaps the next most surprising conclusion.

This is, possibly, the most important area of opportunity and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health concerns at the same time. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can offer many overall benefits:

  • People who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better manage their symptoms.
  • Hearing loss can be treated and tinnitus is frequently a warning sign.
  • Some treatments also help with depression.

Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment

It’s estimated that 90 percent of people who suffer from tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies indicate that hearing aids help regulate the symptoms of tinnitus. Some hearing aids, in fact, actually come with features that address the symptoms of tinnitus. Make an appointment to learn if hearing aids could help you.

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References

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/fullarticle/2732497

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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