New studies have demonstrated a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – health professionals and patients often fail to recognize and treat them. For millions of people who are looking for solutions to mental health problems, identifying this relationship could bring potential improvements.
We understand that hearing loss is widespread, but only a few studies have addressed its impact on mental health.
Out of all people who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show that over 11 percent of them also have clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is noteworthy. Basic 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 people between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noted “a significant connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Age related hearing loss is very common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the risk of depression goes up the more severe the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. Once again, researchers found that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost two times as likely to have depression. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been demonstrated to raise the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. While the research doesn’t prove that one causes the other, it is clear that it is a contributor.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating efficiently. Hearing issues can result in professional and social blunders that cause embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are left unaddressed. People begin to avoid physical activity and isolate themselves from friends and family. This isolation, over time, can result in depression and loneliness.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its connection with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all affected by your hearing. This emphasizes the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are frequently an issue for people who deal with hearing loss.
The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this issue. These risks are significantly decreased, according to studies, with early treatment. It is essential that physicians recommend regular hearing tests. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can reveal, after all. And with people who might be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to look for indications of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, overall loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer in silence. Call us to schedule an appointment if you believe you may have hearing loss.
NEW WEBINAR: Depression, Hearing Loss, and Treatment with Hearing Aids