There is a solid connection between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – they often go unacknowledged and untreated by health professionals and patients. Realizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and offer hope as they seek solutions.
The impact of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very prevalent.
Studies have revealed that over 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had signs of clinical depression. This is significant because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was assessed by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a considerable connection between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances of Depression
Age related hearing loss is very common in older people 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. This study also revealed that the chance of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even minor hearing loss. In addition, many older than 70 who have slight hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the danger of cognitive decline 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.
In order to communicate effectively and remain active, hearing is crucial. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the outcome of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. Gradual withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. People begin to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. Over time, this can lead to isolation, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Just About Your Ears
Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t only about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all impacted by your hearing. This highlights the vital role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are frequently an issue for people who have hearing loss.
The good news: The problem can be significantly enhanced by having a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. These risks are greatly decreased, according to studies, with early treatment. Regular hearing exams need to be encouraged by doctors. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can uncover, after all. And with people who might be coping with hearing loss, caregivers need to look for signs of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Never ignore your symptoms. If you suspect you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing test.