There is a strong link between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – health professionals and patients frequently fail to acknowledge and treat them. Recognizing there is a connection could potentially enhance mental health for millions of individuals and give hope as they look for solutions.
The impact of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very widespread.
Studies have found that more than 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of 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 frequency and severity of symptoms. They discovered depression was most prevalent in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noted “a substantial connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Untreated 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 (an extremely common chronic condition in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the chance of depression. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. This research also revealed that the risk of depression almost doubles in people with even slight hearing loss. Even more startling, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been demonstrated to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Clearly, there’s a relationship between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.
In order to communicate effectively and remain active, hearing is crucial. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the result of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. If left unaddressed, these feelings can lead to a steady withdrawal. People begin to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from friends and family. After a while, this can result in solitude, 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 shows that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. People with hearing loss often struggle with fatigue, confusion, and aggravation.
The good news: The problem can be significantly enhanced by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. These risks are significantly decreased, according to studies, with early treatment. Regular hearing tests need to be recommended by physicians. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. And with people who might be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to watch for signs of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, fatigue, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer in silence. Give us a call to make an appointment if you suspect you might have hearing loss.