New research has shown a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.
Besides this link, both disorders have something else in common – they often go unacknowledged and untreated by patients and health professionals. For millions of individuals who are seeking solutions to mental health problems, recognizing this relationship could bring potential improvements.
We know that hearing loss is widespread, but only a few studies have addressed its impact on mental health.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show that over 11 percent of them also have clinical depression. This is significant because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and assessed depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. They found depression was most prevalent 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 substantial connection between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss is extremely common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the risk of depression rises the worse the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. This study also revealed that the chance of depression almost doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been demonstrated to raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. While the studies cannot prove that one causes the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating effectively. Hearing problems can cause professional and social blunders that cause embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-esteem. If left unaddressed, these feelings can lead to a gradual withdrawal. People begin to avoid physical activity and isolate themselves from friends and family. Over time, this can lead to isolation, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its connection with depression. Hearing impacts your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This demonstrates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. People with hearing loss often deal with exhaustion, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: The problem can be significantly enhanced by having a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies show that treating hearing loss early greatly diminishes their risk. It is essential that physicians recommend routine hearing tests. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can uncover, after all. Caregivers should also watch for indications of depression in people who may be dealing with either or both. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and overall loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Never ignore your symptoms. Give us a call to make an appointment if you believe you might have hearing loss.