New research has shown 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 unacknowledged and neglected by patients and health professionals. Recognizing there is a relationship could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and give hope as they seek solutions.
The impact of hearing loss on mental health has only been dealt with by a few studies even though hearing loss is very widespread.
Out of all people who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show that over 11 percent of them also deal with 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 utilized. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “a substantial connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that people with age-related hearing loss (a very common chronic issue in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the chance of depression. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. Once more, researchers found that individuals with even a little bit of hearing loss were nearly two times as likely to experience depression. In addition, many older than 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. Clearly, 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 efficiently. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the outcome of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. Progressive withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. Individuals withdraw from family and friends as well as from physical activity. After a while, this can lead to solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its relationship with depression. Hearing impacts your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This shows that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Confusion, frustration, and exhaustion are often an issue for individuals who suffer from hearing loss.
The good news: The issue can be significantly improved by having a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies show that treating hearing loss early greatly decreases their risk. Regular hearing tests need to be encouraged by physicians. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing exam can detect. And with people who might be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for indications of depression. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and general loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.
Don’t suffer alone. Give us a call to schedule an appointment if you suspect you might have hearing loss.