There is a strong link between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.
Beyond this connection, both conditions have something else in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and untreated by health professionals and patients. Recognizing there is a relationship could potentially enhance mental health for millions of individuals and provide hope as they look for solutions.
We know that hearing loss is widespread, but only a few studies have dealt with its effect on mental health.
Research has revealed that more than 11 percent of people 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 frequency and severity of the symptoms and a basic questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. They discovered depression was most prevalent 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 connection between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Your Chance 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 (an extremely common chronic issue in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the chance of having depressive symptoms. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing exam. This research also reported 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 increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a relationship between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
In order to communicate effectively and continue to be active, hearing is essential. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the consequence of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. Gradual withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. Individuals withdraw from friends and family and also from physical activity. This seclusion, after a while, can result in 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 overall health are all impacted by your hearing. This emphasizes the vital role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are often a problem for individuals who have hearing loss.
The good news: The problem can be substantially improved by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early greatly decreases their risk. It is essential that physicians advise routine hearing tests. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing test can diagnose. Caregivers should also watch for indications of depression in patients who might be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, fatigue, overall loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer in silence. If you believe you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing test.