New studies have demonstrated a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and untreated by health professionals and patients. For millions of people who are seeking solutions to mental health problems, identifying this connection could lead to potential improvements.
We know that hearing loss is widespread, but only a few studies have addressed its effect on mental health.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows that over 11 percent of them also deal with 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. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noticed “a significant association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic condition in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the chance of having depressive symptoms. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. Once more, researchers found that individuals with even a little bit of hearing loss were nearly twice as likely to experience depression. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been shown to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Clearly, there’s a connection between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating effectively. Hearing problems can lead to professional and social blunders that cause embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-esteem. If left unaddressed, these feelings can result in a gradual withdrawal. People begin to steer clear of physical activity and isolate themselves from friends and family. This seclusion, 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. Hearing affects your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This shows that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. People with hearing loss often struggle with exhaustion, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: The problem can be substantially enhanced by getting a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. These risks are significantly reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. It is essential that physicians advise routine hearing examinations. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can reveal, after all. And with individuals who might be dealing with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for indications of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Never dismiss your symptoms. Call us to make an appointment if you believe you may have hearing loss.