New research has demonstrated a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health.
Besides this connection, both disorders have something else in common – patients and health professionals frequently fail to acknowledge and treat them. Recognizing there is a connection could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and provide hope as they look for solutions.
We understand that hearing loss is widespread, but only a few studies have addressed its impact on mental health.
Research has found that over 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is significant. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and considered 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 substantial association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Age related hearing loss is quite common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the risk of depression rises the worse the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. Once again, researchers found that individuals with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost twice as likely to experience depression. In addition, many over the age of 70 who have mild hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the danger of cognitive decline and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. While the studies cannot prove that one causes the other, it is clear that it is a contributor.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating effectively. Embarrassment, anxiety, 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 start to avoid physical activity and isolate themselves from friends and family. After a while, this can lead to solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Simply About The Ears
Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t simply about the ears. Hearing affects your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This demonstrates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, aggravation, and exhaustion are frequently a problem for people who suffer from hearing loss.
The good news: The issue can be significantly improved by getting a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. These risks are significantly decreased, according to studies, with early treatment. It is essential that physicians recommend routine hearing exams. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing test can detect. Caregivers 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 general loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Never dismiss your symptoms. Give us a call to schedule an appointment if you suspect you might have hearing loss.