New studies have shown a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – they often go unacknowledged and neglected by patients and health professionals. For millions of people who are looking for solutions to mental health problems, acknowledging this relationship could bring potential improvements.
We understand that hearing loss is widespread, but only a few studies have dealt with its impact on mental health.
Studies have found that over 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had signs of clinical depression. This is noteworthy because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and considered depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They discovered depression was most common in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a considerable link between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss is very common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression goes up the more severe the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. This research also revealed that the chance of depression almost doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been demonstrated to increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. While the studies cannot prove that one is caused by the other, it is evident that it is a contributor.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating successfully. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the result of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. If not addressed, these feelings can lead to a gradual withdrawal. Individuals withdraw from friends and family and also from physical activity. This seclusion, after a while, can lead to depression and loneliness.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all affected by your hearing. This highlights the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and exhaustion are frequently a problem for people who have hearing loss.
The good news: Finding professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing problem helps prevent this problem. These risks are significantly decreased, according to studies, with early treatment. It is vital that physicians advise routine hearing tests. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can reveal, after all. And with individuals who may be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to look for signs of depression. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and general loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Never neglect your symptoms. If you believe you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing test.