New research has revealed a strong link between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – patients and health professionals frequently fail to recognize and address them. Recognizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and offer hope as they look for solutions.
The impact of hearing loss on mental health has only been dealt with by a few studies even though hearing loss is very widespread.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows that over 11 percent of them also have clinical depression. This is noteworthy because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was analyzed by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. They found depression was most prevalent in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a significant link between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that people with age-related hearing loss (an extremely common chronic issue in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the chance of depression. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. This research also revealed that the risk of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. In addition, many older than 70 who suffer from slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the chance of cognitive impairment 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.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating successfully. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the result of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. Progressive withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. Individuals withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. This seclusion, after a while, can result in depression and loneliness.
Hearing Isn’t Simply About Your Ears
Hearing loss and its link to 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 highlights the critical role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. People with hearing loss often struggle with fatigue, confusion, and aggravation.
The good news: The problem can be significantly improved by having a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. These risks are substantially decreased, according to studies, with early treatment. It is essential that physicians recommend regular hearing exams. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can uncover, after all. Care providers should also look for indications of depression in people who might be dealing with either or both. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and general loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.
Don’t suffer alone. If you believe you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing test.