There is a strong connection between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.
Beyond this link, both conditions have something else in common – patients and health professionals often fail to recognize and address them. Recognizing there is a relationship could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and give hope as they look for solutions.
The effect of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very common.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows that over 11 percent of them also have clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is noteworthy. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and assessed depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noticed “a significant association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that individuals with age-related hearing loss (an extremely common chronic issue 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 took an evaluation for depression. This study also revealed that the chance of depression almost doubles in people with even slight hearing loss. What’s more, many over the age of 70 who have slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the danger of cognitive impairment and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one is caused by the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.
In order to communicate effectively and stay active, hearing is crucial. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the consequence of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. Gradual withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are left unaddressed. People withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. Over time, this can lead to isolation, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Just About The Ears
Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t only 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 plays an important part. Individuals with hearing loss often struggle with exhaustion, confusion, and aggravation.
The good news: The problem can be substantially enhanced by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies show that treating hearing loss early significantly decreases their risk. Regular hearing tests need to be recommended by doctors. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can uncover, after all. And with people who may be coping with hearing loss, caregivers need to look for symptoms of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, overall loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer alone. If you believe you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing exam.