New studies have revealed a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health.
Besides this connection, both disorders have something else in common – they frequently go overlooked and untreated by health professionals and patients. Recognizing there is a relationship could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and provide 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.
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. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and considered depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. They discovered depression was most prevalent in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a considerable connection between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that people with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic issue in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the risk of having depressive symptoms. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing exam. This research also revealed that the chance of depression almost doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. Even more startling, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been shown to raise the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. Clearly, there’s a connection between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.
In order to communicate successfully and remain active, hearing is essential. Hearing issues can result in professional and social blunders that trigger anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-confidence. If not addressed, these feelings can lead to a steady withdrawal. People withdraw from family and friends and also from physical activity. This seclusion, after a while, 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 relationship with depression. Hearing impacts your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This shows that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Individuals with hearing loss often struggle with exhaustion, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: Finding professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing issue helps prevent this issue. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early substantially decreases their risk. Regular hearing tests need to be encouraged by doctors. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. And with people who may be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for signs of depression. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and general loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.
Never neglect your symptoms. If you suspect you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing exam.