There is a strong correlation between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.
Besides this relationship, both disorders 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 give hope as they seek solutions.
We understand 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 deal with clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is noteworthy. Depression was assessed by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. They found depression was most prevalent in people between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a substantial connection between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that people with age-related hearing loss (a very common chronic condition in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the chance of having depressive symptoms. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. Once more, researchers found that people with even slight hearing loss were almost twice 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 raise the chance of cognitive decline and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a relationship between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
In order to communicate successfully and stay active, hearing is essential. Hearing issues can cause professional and social blunders that trigger anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-confidence. If not addressed, these feelings can result in a steady withdrawal. Individuals withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. After a while, this can lead to solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t only about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all affected by your hearing. This demonstrates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. People with hearing loss often deal with exhaustion, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing issue helps counter this issue. These risks are significantly decreased, according to research, with early treatment. Regular hearing tests need to be recommended by doctors. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. And with individuals who might be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to look for symptoms of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Never neglect your symptoms. If you believe you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing exam.