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 – health professionals and patients frequently fail to acknowledge and address them. For millions of people who are seeking solutions to mental health issues, identifying this connection could lead to potential improvements.
We understand that hearing loss is common, but only a few studies have dealt with its effect on mental health.
Out of all people who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show 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 significant. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and evaluated depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a significant connection between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that people with age-related hearing loss (an extremely 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 assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. This research also revealed that the risk of depression nearly doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been demonstrated to raise the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. 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 efficiently and remain active, hearing is essential. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the outcome of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. If left unaddressed, these feelings can result in a steady withdrawal. People begin to avoid physical activity and isolate themselves from friends and family. This isolation, over time, can lead to 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. Hearing impacts your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This emphasizes the vital role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, aggravation, and fatigue are frequently an issue for people who have hearing loss.
The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this problem. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early substantially reduces their risk. Routine hearing tests need to be encouraged by physicians. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing exam can detect. Caregivers should also watch for indications of depression in people who may be dealing with either or both. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and overall loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Don’t suffer alone. If you believe you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing exam.