New studies have demonstrated a strong link between hearing loss and mental health.
Besides this link, both disorders have something else in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and neglected by health professionals and patients. For millions of people who are searching for solutions to mental health problems, acknowledging this connection could bring potential improvements.
The effect of hearing loss on mental health has only been dealt with by a few studies even though hearing loss is very common.
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 analyzed by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. 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 Chances of Depression
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 increases the worse the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. Once more, researchers observed that people with even slight hearing loss were almost two times 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 raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Clearly, there’s a link between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating effectively. Hearing issues can cause professional and social blunders that trigger embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Progressive withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. People start to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from friends and family. After a while, this can lead to solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Just About The Ears
Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t simply about the ears. Hearing impacts your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This demonstrates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. People with hearing loss frequently deal with fatigue, confusion, and aggravation.
The good news: Finding professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this problem. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early significantly reduces their risk. It is vital that physicians recommend regular hearing examinations. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can reveal, after all. And with people who may be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to look for symptoms of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, fatigue, overall loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Never dismiss your symptoms. If you suspect you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing test.