New research has demonstrated a strong link between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – health professionals and patients frequently fail to recognize and treat them. Recognizing there is a relationship could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and offer hope as they seek solutions.
We understand that hearing loss is widespread, but only a few studies have dealt with its effect on mental health.
Out of all people who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show that over 11 percent of them also deal with clinical depression. This is significant because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and evaluated depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “a significant connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic condition in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the chance of depression. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. Once again, researchers found that individuals with even slight hearing loss were almost twice as likely to have depression. Even more startling, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been shown to increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. Clearly, there’s a link between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating efficiently. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the consequence of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. Progressive withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. People withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. Over time, this can result in solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its association with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all impacted by your hearing. This highlights the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. Confusion, aggravation, and fatigue are frequently a problem for individuals who have hearing loss.
The good news: The problem can be substantially enhanced by having a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. These risks are significantly reduced, according to research, with early treatment. Regular hearing exams need to be recommended by physicians. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can uncover, after all. And with people who might be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for indications of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Never neglect your symptoms. If you believe you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing exam.