New research has shown a strong link between hearing loss and mental health.
Beyond this connection, both disorders have something else in common – they frequently go overlooked and untreated by patients and health professionals. Recognizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and provide hope as they look for solutions.
The effect of hearing loss on mental health has only been dealt with by a few studies even though hearing loss is very widespread.
Research has revealed that more than 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. This is noteworthy because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was assessed by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a basic questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noticed “a significant connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances of Depression
Age related hearing loss is extremely common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the danger of depression increases the more severe the hearing loss is. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. Once more, researchers found that people with even slight hearing loss were almost two times as likely to have depression. What’s more, many over the age of 70 who have mild hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. 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 successfully and remain active, hearing is crucial. Hearing issues can result in professional and social blunders that trigger embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-esteem. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are left unaddressed. People withdraw from family and friends and also from physical activity. Over time, this can result in solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Hearing affects your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This emphasizes the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Individuals with hearing loss often struggle with exhaustion, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: The issue can be substantially improved by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. These risks are greatly reduced, according to research, with early treatment. It is essential that physicians endorse routine hearing tests. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can reveal, after all. Caregivers should also look for indications of depression in patients who may be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, fatigue, overall loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer in silence. If you believe you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing assessment.