New research has shown a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and untreated by patients and health professionals. Recognizing there is a relationship could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and give hope as they seek solutions.
We know that hearing loss is widespread, but only a few studies have dealt with its effect on mental health.
Studies have found that more than 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had signs of clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is significant. Standard 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. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a significant link between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that individuals with age-related hearing loss (an extremely common chronic condition in senior citizens) 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 risk of depression almost doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. Even more startling, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been demonstrated to raise the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. While the research doesn’t prove that one causes the other, it is evident 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 result of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. If left unaddressed, these feelings can result in a gradual withdrawal. People begin to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. This isolation, 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 connection with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all affected by your hearing. This emphasizes the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are often a problem for individuals who suffer from hearing loss.
The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps prevent this problem. These risks are substantially reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. Routine hearing tests need to be encouraged by physicians. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can reveal, after all. And with people who might be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for signs of depression. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and general 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.