There is a strong connection between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.
Beyond this link, both conditions have something else in common – they frequently go overlooked and neglected by health professionals and patients. For millions of individuals who are searching for solutions to mental health issues, recognizing this relationship could lead to potential improvements.
We understand that hearing loss is common, but only a handful of studies have dealt with its effect on mental health.
Out of all people 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. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and evaluated depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They found depression was most widespread in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a considerable connection between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that people with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic issue in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the chance of depression. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. This study also reported that the chance of depression nearly doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. In addition, many older than 70 who suffer from slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a connection between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
In order to communicate successfully and remain active, hearing is crucial. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the result of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. Gradual withdrawal can be the result 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 isolation, loneliness – and depression.
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 general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This demonstrates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Confusion, aggravation, and fatigue are often an issue for individuals who suffer from hearing loss.
The good news: Finding professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing issue helps prevent this issue. Studies show that treating hearing loss early greatly decreases their risk. It is essential that physicians endorse regular hearing tests. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. Care providers should also watch for signs of depression in people who might be dealing with either or both. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and general loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Never ignore your symptoms. Give us a call to schedule an appointment if you think you might have hearing loss.
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