New studies have shown a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health.
Besides this connection, both conditions have something else in common – health professionals and patients often fail to recognize and address them. Realizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and offer 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 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 noteworthy because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was analyzed by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. They found depression was most widespread in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a considerable connection between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found 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 risk of having depressive symptoms. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. Once again, researchers observed that individuals with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost two times as likely to have depression. Even more startling, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been demonstrated to raise 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.
In order to communicate effectively and remain active, hearing is essential. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the result of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are not addressed. People withdraw from friends and family and also from physical activity. Over time, this can result in solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Only About Your 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 demonstrates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. People with hearing loss frequently struggle with fatigue, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: The issue can be substantially improved by having a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early substantially diminishes their risk. Routine hearing exams need to be recommended by physicians. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. And with individuals who may be coping with hearing loss, caregivers need to look for indications of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer alone. If you believe you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing exam.