Advice for Doctors with Patients who Have Depression and Tinnitus

Let’s talk about the most effective ways to provide care to a patient with tinnitus who presents with significant depression and has mentioned in passing that their tinnitus has caused them to have had suicidal thoughts.

After the comment had passed and the patient has completed sharing their thoughts, I would ask them if they have considered following through on their suicidal thoughts.  Asking someone about their suicidal thoughts does not increase their risk of killing them self.

If the individual seems to be seriously considering suicide, I would refer them to a psychologist or psychiatrist (for those who take depression/sleep medications) at the end of the appointment. When a patient mentions suicide during an appointment, I will stop to ask questions about the severity of the situation.

The worst case scenario is for the healthcare professional to undermine the warning signs of suicide. These individuals need to tell their story and be met with motivating, compassionate counseling.

It is important to continue with the appointment as planned. I do not wish to make their suicidal thoughts center stage and cause unnecessary stress to the patient. If I am ever in doubt about the severity of suicidal claims, I will refer to a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Patients who take medications pertaining to stress/depression/sleep/etc. are more suitable with a psychiatrist (rather than psychologist) who can manage their prescriptions.

Unfortunately, many individuals are living with depression and tinnitus.

Tinnitus is more common than most doctors realize.

Tinnitus affects our ability to relax, enjoy quiet time, and sleep easily. Therefore, tinnitus can create anxiety, depression, and stress quite quickly.

It is not easy to reverse the harmful effects from tinnitus, but it can be done.

Dr. Ben Thompson, Au.D.

Dr. Ben Thompson, Au.D.

Dr. Ben Thompson is an audiologist in California and founder of Pure Tinnitus. Dr. Thompson has a comprehensive knowledge of tinnitus management. He completed his residency at University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and is a past board member of the California Academy of Audiology. Via telehealth, Dr. Thompson provides services to patients with hearing loss and tinnitus.

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