New research has shown a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – they often go unacknowledged and untreated by patients and health professionals. For millions of individuals who are searching for solutions to mental health problems, acknowledging this connection could bring potential improvements.
We understand that hearing loss is common, but only a few studies have dealt with its impact on mental health.
Research has revealed that over 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. This is significant because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was assessed by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. They discovered 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, discovered “a substantial link between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances of Depression
Age related hearing loss is extremely common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression rises the more severe the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. Once more, researchers found that people with even slight hearing loss were almost twice as likely to experience depression. What’s more, many over the age of 70 who suffer from slight hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the chance of cognitive decline and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. Obviously, there’s a connection between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating efficiently. Hearing problems can result in professional and social blunders that trigger anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-confidence. If left unaddressed, these feelings can result in a gradual withdrawal. People start to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. This isolation, over time, 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 association with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all affected by your hearing. This emphasizes the critical role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. People with hearing loss often deal with fatigue, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing problem helps prevent this problem. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early significantly reduces their risk. Regular hearing exams need to be encouraged by doctors. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing test can detect. And with people who might be dealing with hearing loss, care providers need to look for signs of depression. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and general loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.
Don’t suffer alone. Call us to make an appointment if you believe you may have hearing loss.