New studies have revealed a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – they frequently go overlooked and neglected by health professionals and patients. For millions of people who are searching for solutions to mental health issues, acknowledging this relationship could bring potential improvements.
We know that hearing loss is common, but only a handful of studies have dealt with its impact on mental health.
Out of all people who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows that over 11 percent of them also have clinical depression. This is significant because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and assessed depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. Individuals 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, noticed “a considerable connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss is very common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the risk of depression increases the worse the hearing loss is. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. Once more, researchers observed that individuals with even slight hearing loss were almost two times as likely to experience depression. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been demonstrated to increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. Obviously, there’s a link 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 essential. Hearing problems can cause professional and social blunders that cause anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-confidence. If left unaddressed, these feelings can lead to a steady withdrawal. People withdraw from family and friends and also from physical activity. This seclusion, after a while, can result in depression and loneliness.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all affected by your hearing. This shows that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Individuals with hearing loss often struggle with exhaustion, confusion, and aggravation.
The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing problem helps prevent this problem. Studies show that treating hearing loss early greatly decreases their risk. Regular hearing exams need to be encouraged by doctors. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing exam can detect. Caregivers should also watch for signs of depression in patients who might be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, overall loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Never neglect your symptoms. If you suspect you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing test.