There is a solid link between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and untreated by patients and health professionals. Realizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and offer hope as they seek solutions.
The effect of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very common.
Studies have revealed that over 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 noteworthy. Depression was analyzed by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a basic questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noticed “a significant association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a very common chronic issue in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the chance of having depressive symptoms. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. This study also reported that the chance of depression almost doubles in individuals with even minor hearing loss. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been demonstrated to raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. While the research doesn’t prove that one causes the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.
Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating efficiently. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the consequence of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. If not addressed, these feelings can result in a gradual withdrawal. People begin to avoid physical activity and isolate themselves from friends and family. Over time, this can result in solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Only About The Ears
Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all impacted by your hearing. This highlights the vital role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. Individuals with hearing loss often deal with fatigue, confusion, and aggravation.
The good news: Finding professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing issue helps prevent this problem. Studies show that treating hearing loss early greatly reduces their risk. Routine hearing tests need to be encouraged by physicians. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can reveal, after all. Care providers should also watch for indications of depression in people who may be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, fatigue, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer alone. Give us a call to make an appointment if you suspect you might have hearing loss.