New research has demonstrated a strong link between hearing loss and mental health.
Beyond this relationship, both disorders have something else in common – patients and health professionals frequently fail to recognize and address them. Recognizing there is a relationship could potentially improve mental health for millions of people and provide hope as they look for solutions.
The effect of hearing loss on mental health has only been dealt with by a few studies even though hearing loss is very prevalent.
Studies have found that more than 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had signs of clinical depression. This is noteworthy because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was evaluated by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a basic questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noted “a considerable connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that individuals with age-related hearing loss (an extremely 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 took an evaluation for depression. This study also revealed that the chance of depression nearly doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. In addition, many over the age of 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a link between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.
Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating effectively. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the result of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. If not addressed, these feelings can lead to a gradual withdrawal. People begin to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. After a while, this can lead to isolation, loneliness – and depression.
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 overall health are all impacted by your hearing. This indicates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are often a problem for individuals who have hearing loss.
The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this issue. These risks are greatly reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. Routine hearing exams need to be recommended by doctors. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can reveal, after all. And with people who may be dealing with hearing loss, care providers need to look for signs of depression. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and general loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.
Don’t suffer alone. Call us to schedule an appointment if you suspect you might have hearing loss.