New studies have shown a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – patients and health professionals frequently fail to recognize and treat them. For millions of people who are searching for solutions to mental health problems, identifying this connection could bring potential improvements.
We know that hearing loss is widespread, but only a handful of studies have addressed its effect on mental health.
Research has revealed that more than 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of 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 assessed depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They found depression was most common in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a significant link between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that people with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic issue in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the risk of depression. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing exam. Once more, researchers observed that individuals with even slight hearing loss were nearly two times as likely to experience depression. In addition, many older than 70 who have mild hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the chance of cognitive decline and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one causes the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating efficiently. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the outcome of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. If not addressed, these feelings can lead to a steady withdrawal. People begin to steer clear of physical activity and isolate themselves from family and friends. This seclusion, after a while, can result in depression and loneliness.
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 general health are all impacted by your hearing. This highlights the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Individuals with hearing loss often struggle with fatigue, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps prevent this problem. These risks are significantly decreased, according to research, with early treatment. Regular hearing tests need to be encouraged by doctors. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can reveal, after all. And with people who might be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to look for symptoms of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, overall loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer in silence. Call us to schedule an appointment if you think you might have hearing loss.