There is a strong correlation between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.
Besides this connection, both conditions have something else in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and neglected by patients and health professionals. Recognizing there is a relationship could potentially enhance mental health for millions of individuals and offer hope as they look for solutions.
We know that hearing loss is widespread, but only a handful of studies have addressed its effect on mental health.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show that over 11 percent of them also have clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is significant. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and assessed depression based on the frequency and severity 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, saw “a substantial connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances of Depression
Age related hearing loss is extremely common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the danger of depression increases the worse the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. Once more, researchers found that individuals with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost twice as likely to experience depression. In addition, many over the age of 70 who have slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the chance of cognitive impairment and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. While the studies cannot prove that one is caused by the other, it is clear that it is a contributor.
In order to communicate successfully and remain active, hearing is crucial. Hearing issues 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 left unaddressed. People withdraw from friends and family and also from physical activity. This seclusion, over time, can result in depression and loneliness.
Hearing Isn’t Simply About The Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its connection with depression. Hearing impacts your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This emphasizes the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and exhaustion are often a problem for people who suffer from hearing loss.
The good news: The issue can be significantly enhanced by getting a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. These risks are greatly reduced, according to research, with early treatment. It is essential that physicians advise regular hearing examinations. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can reveal, after all. And with individuals who might be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to watch for symptoms of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Never dismiss your symptoms. If you suspect you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing test.