There is a solid link between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – patients and health professionals often fail to recognize and treat them. For millions of people who are seeking solutions to mental health issues, acknowledging this connection could lead to potential improvements.
We understand that hearing loss is widespread, but only a handful of studies have addressed its effect on mental health.
Studies have found that more than 11 percent of people 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 analyzed 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 instance of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a significant link between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss is extremely common in older people 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 test. This study also revealed that the chance of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. Even more startling, 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. While the research doesn’t prove that one causes the other, it is evident that it is a contributor.
In order to communicate successfully and remain active, hearing is crucial. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the consequence of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. Gradual withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are left unaddressed. People start to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. After a while, this can result in isolation, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Only About The Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its association with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all affected by your hearing. This emphasizes the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, aggravation, and fatigue are frequently a problem for people who have hearing loss.
The good news: The issue can be significantly improved by getting a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. Studies show that treating hearing loss early significantly diminishes their risk. Regular hearing exams need to be encouraged by doctors. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. Care providers should also watch for indications of depression in people who may be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer in silence. If you believe you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing exam.