New research has demonstrated a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.
Besides this connection, both conditions have something else in common – patients and health professionals often fail to acknowledge and treat them. For millions of people who are looking for solutions to mental health issues, identifying this connection could lead to potential improvements.
The impact of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very common.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows 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 assessed depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They discovered depression was most prevalent in people between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noted “a significant association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss
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 goes up the worse the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. This research also revealed that the risk of depression nearly doubles in people with even slight hearing loss. Even more startling, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been shown to increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. Clearly, there’s a connection between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.
In order to communicate effectively and stay active, hearing is essential. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the result of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. If left unaddressed, these feelings can lead to a steady withdrawal. Individuals withdraw from friends and family and also from physical activity. After a while, this can result in isolation, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t simply about the ears. Hearing affects your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This indicates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. People with hearing loss often struggle with exhaustion, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this problem. These risks are considerably reduced, according to research, with early treatment. Regular hearing exams need to be recommended by doctors. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing test can diagnose. Care providers should also look for signs of depression in patients who might be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer alone. Give us a call to schedule an appointment if you believe you may have hearing loss.