One in five tinnitus sufferers experience suicidal thoughts, according to new report from Tinnitus UK highlighting lack of mental health resources

Tinnitus UK, a leading independent charity dedicated to supporting individuals coping with tinnitus in the United Kingdom, has released groundbreaking research highlighting the urgent need for improved healthcare support and services for those affected by this pervasive condition.

According to the study, conducted in December 2023 with 478 tinnitus sufferers, 1 in 7 adults in the UK are impacted by tinnitus, with 1 in 6 experiencing a severe decrease in their quality of life.

The research revealed distressing statistics, including one in five respondents experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm in the last year. Additionally, over 8 out of 10 reported low mood or anxiety, with 7 out of 10 feeling hopeless or helpless. The emotional toll of tinnitus was also evident, with 68.4% reporting low self-esteem and 54.9% struggling to think rationally. Furthermore, tinnitus is linked to social isolation, with two-thirds of respondents avoiding contact with friends, minimizing social activities, or facing difficulties at work.

Despite the introduction of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines in March 2020, the study found that significant challenges persist in accessing healthcare support for tinnitus. While half of respondents were able to secure GP appointments within a week, 16% had to wait over a month. Referrals to secondary care decreased to 57.9%, with 11.7% not being offered a referral. Additionally, waiting times for secondary care appointments have increased, with 1 in 6 people facing waits of more than 12 months, a tripling from 2019 to 2023. Limited mental health support is also available, with only 5% offered Psychological Interventions such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

In response to these alarming findings, Tinnitus UK is calling for immediate action, including an evaluation of secondary care services and increased investment from commissioning bodies where necessary. The charity is also advocating for the implementation of a standardized nationwide management model for tinnitus and increased tinnitus education for medical professionals.

Maisie Carscadden, Head of Services at Tinnitus UK, emphasized the urgent need for action, stating, “There has been a noticeable increase in people reaching out to us who need support for the mental health struggles that tinnitus has triggered. We provide guidance, reassurance, and support to help them cope, but a significant number of these people require specialized care from health professionals. Unfortunately, the necessary resources are often lacking. We’re dedicated to doing our part, but there needs to be collective efforts to bridge this gap and ensure everyone gets the care they deserve.”

Dr. James Jackson, Reader in Psychology at Leeds Trinity University and tinnitus researcher, also stressed the impact of tinnitus on mental health and well-being, stating, “While most people will eventually habituate to their tinnitus, it can be very distressing in the short-to-medium term, if not longer. It has significant effects on medical health and well-being, resulting in emotional exhaustion, clinical anxiety, clinical depression, and insomnia. It is vital that people have access to timely interventions to ensure that the impact on their quality of life is minimized.”

For media inquiries, please contact Joanna March, Head of Brand and Communications at Tinnitus UK, at or 0114 250 9933.

Tinnitus UK is available for interviews, including author of the report Nic Wray and tinnitus researcher Dr. James Jackson. The charity can also provide case studies from individuals around the UK who can share their personal stories of living with tinnitus.

Tinnitus UK is an independent charity dedicated to providing information and support for individuals living with tinnitus in the United Kingdom. The charity strives to enhance the quality of life for those affected by this condition through a variety of support avenues, including online and in-person support groups, a helpline featuring a chatbot and live webchat, and an informative website. Tinnitus UK receives no direct government funding and is committed to educating both medical professionals and the wider community about tinnitus, advocating prevention, and working towards finding a cure.

Tinnitus, characterized by hearing sounds such as ringing or buzzing without an external source, affects one in seven adults in the UK. While it can be a temporary annoyance for some, for others, it becomes a persistent and distressing companion. For one in six people with tinnitus, the condition severely affects their ability to lead a normal life. This proportion is considerably higher in those that contact Tinnitus UK for support. Additionally, tinnitus-related healthcare costs in the UK amount to £750 million annually, with an anticipated increase as eight million people are expected to be affected by 2025. With no known cure for tinnitus, many sufferers feel that current treatment options are insufficient and often ineffective, and that healthcare professionals lack knowledge of the condition and its impact.

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