There is a solid correlation between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.
Besides this connection, both conditions have something else in common – health professionals and patients often fail to recognize and treat them. Realizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of people and offer hope as they look for solutions.
We know that hearing loss is widespread, but only a handful of studies have addressed its impact 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 significant. Depression was evaluated by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a basic questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noted “a substantial association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss is quite common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the risk of depression goes up the worse the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. This study also reported that the risk of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. In addition, many over the age of 70 who have slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. Obviously, there’s a connection between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.
Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating effectively. Hearing problems can result in professional and social blunders that cause anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-esteem. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are not addressed. People withdraw from friends and family and also from physical activity. After a while, this can result in isolation, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Only About The Ears
Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t only about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all affected by your hearing. This indicates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, aggravation, and exhaustion are frequently an issue for individuals who deal with hearing loss.
The good news: The issue can be substantially improved by getting a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early significantly reduces their risk. It is vital that physicians advise routine hearing exams. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can uncover, after all. Caregivers should also watch for symptoms of depression in patients who may be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Never ignore your symptoms. If you suspect you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing assessment.