New research has revealed a strong link between hearing loss and mental health.
Beyond this link, both conditions have something else in common – they frequently go overlooked and untreated by patients and health professionals. For millions of people who are searching for solutions to mental health problems, identifying this connection could lead to potential improvements.
We know that hearing loss is common, but only a few 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 noteworthy. Depression was assessed by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a basic questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. They found depression was most common in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “a substantial 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, found that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic issue in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the risk of depression. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. Once again, researchers found that individuals with even slight hearing loss were almost twice as likely to have depression. What’s more, many older than 70 who have mild hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the chance of cognitive decline and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one is caused by the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.
Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating successfully. Anxiety, embarrassment, 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 result in a gradual withdrawal. People withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. This seclusion, after a while, can result in depression and loneliness.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its relationship with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all affected by your hearing. This demonstrates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, aggravation, and fatigue are frequently an issue for individuals who have hearing loss.
The good news: Finding professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing issue helps counter this problem. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early greatly diminishes their risk. It is essential that physicians advise regular hearing tests. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can reveal, after all. Caregivers should also watch for indications of depression in people who may be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, overall loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Never neglect your symptoms. Give us a call to schedule an appointment if you think you might have hearing loss.