New studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – health professionals and patients often fail to acknowledge and treat them. For millions of people who are seeking solutions to mental health issues, recognizing this connection could bring potential improvements.
We know that hearing loss is widespread, but only a few studies have addressed its impact on mental health.
Out of all people who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows that over 11 percent of them also deal with clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is noteworthy. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and considered depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. They found depression was most common in people between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a significant link between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances of Depression
Age related hearing loss is quite common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression goes up the worse the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. This research also revealed that the risk of depression almost doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. Even more startling, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been shown to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Obviously, there’s a connection between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating effectively. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the consequence of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are not addressed. People start to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from friends and family. This seclusion, over time, can lead to depression and loneliness.
Hearing Isn’t Just About Your Ears
Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t simply about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all affected by your hearing. This emphasizes the vital role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are frequently an issue for individuals who deal with hearing loss.
The good news: The problem can be significantly enhanced by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. These risks are significantly reduced, according to research, with early treatment. It is essential that physicians endorse regular hearing examinations. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing test can detect. And with individuals who might be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to look for symptoms of depression. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and general loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.
Never ignore your symptoms. If you believe you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing exam.