New research has revealed a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.
Beyond this relationship, both disorders have something else in common – patients and health professionals often fail to recognize and treat them. For millions of individuals who are seeking solutions to mental health issues, recognizing this connection could bring potential improvements.
The impact of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very widespread.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show that over 11 percent of them also deal with clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is significant. Depression was assessed by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a considerable link between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Age related hearing loss is quite common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the risk of depression increases the worse the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. This study also revealed that the chance of depression nearly 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 risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Obviously, there’s a link between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
In order to communicate effectively and remain active, hearing is crucial. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the result of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are not addressed. Individuals withdraw from family and friends as well as from physical activity. After a while, this can result in solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Simply About Your Ears
Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t only about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all affected by your hearing. This demonstrates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Confusion, aggravation, and fatigue are frequently an issue for individuals who have hearing loss.
The good news: The issue can be significantly enhanced by having a hearing test and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early greatly diminishes their risk. It is essential that physicians advise regular hearing exams. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing test can diagnose. Caregivers should also watch for symptoms of depression in patients who may be dealing with either or both. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and overall 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 test.