There is a strong link between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.
Besides this relationship, both conditions have something else in common – patients and health professionals often fail to acknowledge and treat them. Realizing there is a relationship could potentially improve mental health for millions of people and offer 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 common.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows that over 11 percent of them also deal with clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is significant. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and assessed depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. Individuals 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 considerable link between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Untreated 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 senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the chance of depression. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. This study also reported that the chance of depression almost 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 shown to raise the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. 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 remain 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. If left unaddressed, these feelings can result in a steady withdrawal. People start to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. This isolation, after a while, can lead to depression and loneliness.
Hearing Isn’t Only About Your Ears
Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Hearing affects your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This highlights the critical role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. Individuals with hearing loss often deal with fatigue, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: The issue can be substantially improved by having a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. These risks are significantly reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. It is vital that physicians recommend routine hearing exams. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing test can detect. And with people who may be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to look for signs of depression. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and general loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.
Don’t suffer in silence. If you believe you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing assessment.