New studies have revealed a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – patients and health professionals frequently fail to recognize and address them. Realizing there is a relationship could potentially improve 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 dealt with its effect on mental health.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show that over 11 percent of them also have 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 evaluated depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They discovered depression was most common in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noted “a considerable 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 people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the danger of depression increases the worse the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. Once again, researchers found that people with even slight hearing loss were almost two times as likely to have depression. In addition, many older than 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a link between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.
In order to communicate successfully and stay active, hearing is essential. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the result of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. If not addressed, these feelings can result in a gradual withdrawal. Individuals withdraw from friends and family and also from physical activity. This seclusion, over time, can lead to depression and loneliness.
Hearing Isn’t Just About The Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its relationship with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all impacted by your hearing. This shows that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are often an issue 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 notice hearing loss symptoms. These risks are considerably reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. Regular hearing exams need to be recommended by doctors. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can reveal, after all. And with individuals who might be coping with hearing loss, caregivers need to watch for indications of depression. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and overall loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Never ignore your symptoms. If you suspect you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing assessment.