New studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health.
Besides this link, both disorders have something else in common – they often go unacknowledged and neglected by patients and health professionals. Knowing there is a connection could potentially enhance 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 widespread.
Studies have found that more than 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. This is noteworthy because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and considered depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. 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 Chance 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 risk of depression rises the worse the hearing loss is. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. Once again, researchers found that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost twice as likely to experience depression. In addition, many older than 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the danger of cognitive decline and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one causes the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.
In order to communicate effectively and continue to be active, hearing is essential. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the consequence of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are left unaddressed. Individuals withdraw from family and friends as well as from physical activity. This isolation, over time, can result in depression and loneliness.
Hearing Isn’t Simply About Your Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its association with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all affected by your hearing. This demonstrates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Individuals with hearing loss frequently deal with fatigue, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: The problem can be significantly enhanced by having a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. These risks are significantly decreased, according to studies, with early treatment. Regular hearing exams need to be recommended by doctors. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can uncover, after all. Care providers should also watch for symptoms 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 in silence. Call us to schedule an appointment if you think you may have hearing loss.