New research has shown a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – health professionals and patients frequently fail to acknowledge and treat them. For millions of people who are searching for solutions to mental health issues, acknowledging this relationship could lead to potential improvements.
We understand that hearing loss is common, but only a handful of studies have addressed its impact on mental health.
Research has revealed that more than 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had signs of clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is noteworthy. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and evaluated depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. They discovered depression was most common in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a substantial link between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
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 goes up the more severe the hearing loss is. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. This research also revealed that the risk of depression nearly doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. Even more startling, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been shown to raise the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. While the studies cannot prove that one is caused by the other, it is evident that it is a contributor.
Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating efficiently. Hearing issues can cause professional and social blunders that cause anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Gradual withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are left unaddressed. People start to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from friends and family. This isolation, over time, can result in depression and loneliness.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t simply about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all affected by your hearing. This highlights the critical role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are frequently a problem 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 issue. These risks are substantially reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. Regular hearing tests need to be recommended by physicians. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. And with individuals who may be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for indications of depression. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and general loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Don’t suffer alone. Give us a call to make an appointment if you believe you might have hearing loss.