New research has demonstrated a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health.
Beyond this connection, both conditions have something else in common – they often go unacknowledged and untreated by health professionals and patients. Recognizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and provide hope as they seek solutions.
We know that hearing loss is widespread, but only a few studies have addressed its effect on mental health.
Studies have found that more than 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. This is noteworthy because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was assessed by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a substantial link between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Age related hearing loss is very common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression rises the more severe the hearing loss is. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. Once more, researchers found that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost two times as likely to experience depression. What’s more, many older than 70 who suffer from slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the chance of cognitive impairment and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. Obviously, there’s a connection between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
In order to communicate successfully and stay active, hearing is essential. Hearing issues can lead to professional and social blunders that cause embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-esteem. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are left unaddressed. People begin to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. After a while, this can result in solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all impacted by your hearing. This indicates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Individuals with hearing loss often deal with exhaustion, confusion, and aggravation.
The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing issue helps prevent this issue. These risks are significantly decreased, according to research, with early treatment. Routine hearing exams need to be encouraged by physicians. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. Care providers should also look for indications of depression in patients who might be dealing with either or both. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and overall loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Never neglect your symptoms. Give us a call to schedule an appointment if you suspect you may have hearing loss.