New studies have revealed a strong link between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – they often go unacknowledged and neglected by patients and health professionals. For millions of people who are seeking solutions to mental health problems, acknowledging this connection could lead to potential improvements.
We understand that hearing loss is widespread, but only a handful of studies have dealt with its impact on mental health.
Research has found 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 significant. Depression was evaluated by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a basic questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. They discovered depression was most common in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a significant connection between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that people with age-related hearing loss (a very common chronic condition in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the chance of depression. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. This study also reported that the chance of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. What’s more, many older than 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the chance of cognitive decline and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a connection between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
In order to communicate successfully and remain active, hearing is crucial. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the result of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. If left unaddressed, these feelings can result in a steady withdrawal. People withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. This seclusion, over time, can lead to depression and loneliness.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its connection with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all impacted by your hearing. This indicates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. People with hearing loss frequently deal with fatigue, confusion, and aggravation.
The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing issue helps counter this issue. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early greatly diminishes their risk. It is essential that physicians recommend regular hearing examinations. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can reveal, after all. Care providers should also look for indications of depression in people who may be dealing with either or both. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and overall loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.
Don’t suffer in silence. Give us a call to make an appointment if you suspect you might have hearing loss.