New studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health.
Beyond this relationship, both disorders have something else in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and neglected by patients and health professionals. For millions of individuals who are looking for solutions to mental health issues, identifying this connection could bring potential improvements.
We know that hearing loss is common, but only a handful of studies have addressed its effect on mental health.
Studies have found that over 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. This is significant because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was analyzed 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 instance of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a substantial connection between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic condition in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the risk of having depressive symptoms. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. Once again, researchers found that individuals with even a little bit of hearing loss were nearly twice as likely to have depression. Even more startling, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been demonstrated to increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. Obviously, there’s a link between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating successfully. Hearing problems can result in professional and social blunders that cause embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are not addressed. People start to steer clear of physical activity and isolate themselves from family and friends. Over time, this can result in solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Simply About Your Ears
Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Hearing impacts your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This highlights the vital role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. Confusion, aggravation, and fatigue are frequently an issue for people who deal with hearing loss.
The good news: The issue can be substantially enhanced by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early greatly diminishes their risk. It is essential that physicians endorse routine hearing examinations. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can uncover, after all. And with individuals who may be dealing with hearing loss, care providers need to look for signs of depression. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and general loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Never dismiss your symptoms. Give us a call to schedule an appointment if you believe you may have hearing loss.