There is a solid correlation between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – patients and health professionals often fail to recognize and address them. Knowing there is a relationship could potentially enhance mental health for millions of individuals and give hope as they look for solutions.
The effect of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very widespread.
Studies have 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 significant. Depression was assessed by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a basic questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a substantial link between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Age related hearing loss is very common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the danger of depression goes up the more severe the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing exam. Once again, researchers found that individuals with even a little bit of hearing loss were nearly twice as likely to have depression. What’s more, many older than 70 who have mild hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the chance of cognitive impairment and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. Obviously, there’s a connection between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating effectively. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the result of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are left unaddressed. People start to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from friends and family. Over time, this can result in solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t only about the ears. 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 plays an important part. Individuals with hearing loss often struggle with exhaustion, confusion, and aggravation.
The good news: The issue can be substantially improved by getting a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. These risks are significantly reduced, according to research, with early treatment. It is vital that physicians endorse regular hearing tests. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing test can detect. 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.
Never ignore your symptoms. If you believe you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing assessment.