There is a strong link between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.
Besides this link, both conditions have something else in common – they often go unacknowledged and untreated by patients and health professionals. Knowing there is a relationship could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and provide hope as they seek solutions.
We know that hearing loss is common, but only a few studies have dealt with its effect 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. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and evaluated depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They found depression was most widespread in people between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noticed “a significant association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances of Depression
Age related hearing loss is quite common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression rises the worse the hearing loss is. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing exam. Once again, researchers observed that people with even slight hearing loss were nearly two times as likely to experience depression. What’s more, many over the age of 70 who suffer from slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the chance of cognitive decline and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. While the studies cannot prove that one causes the other, it is evident that it is a contributor.
In order to communicate efficiently and stay active, hearing is essential. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the outcome 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. After a while, this can lead to 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. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all impacted by your hearing. This emphasizes the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Individuals with hearing loss frequently deal with fatigue, confusion, and aggravation.
The good news: The issue can be substantially improved by having a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early substantially diminishes their risk. It is essential that physicians endorse routine hearing exams. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can uncover, after all. And with people who may be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for symptoms of depression. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and general loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.
Never dismiss your symptoms. Give us a call to schedule an appointment if you think you may have hearing loss.