New studies have demonstrated a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – patients and health professionals often fail to acknowledge and address them. For millions of people who are looking for solutions to mental health issues, recognizing this connection could bring potential improvements.
The effect of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very common.
Out of all people who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows that over 11 percent of them also have clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is noteworthy. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and evaluated depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They discovered depression was most widespread in people between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a considerable connection between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss is quite common in older individuals 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. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. This study also reported that the chance of depression nearly doubles in people with even slight hearing loss. In addition, many over the age of 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the chance of cognitive impairment and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one causes the other, it is clear that it is a contributor.
In order to communicate effectively and stay active, hearing is crucial. Hearing problems can result in professional and social blunders that trigger anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-esteem. If left unaddressed, these feelings can result in a gradual withdrawal. People start to avoid physical activity and isolate themselves from friends and family. Over time, this can result in solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Only About The Ears
Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Hearing impacts your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This shows that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Confusion, frustration, and exhaustion are often a problem for people who suffer from hearing loss.
The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this problem. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early greatly reduces their risk. It is essential that physicians advise regular hearing tests. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing test can diagnose. And with individuals who may be dealing with hearing loss, care providers need to look for indications of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer in silence. Call us to schedule an appointment if you think you may have hearing loss.
NEW WEBINAR: Depression, Hearing Loss, and Treatment with Hearing Aids