There is a solid connection between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.
Beyond this connection, both disorders have something else in common – they frequently go overlooked and neglected by patients and health professionals. Recognizing there is a relationship could potentially enhance mental health for millions of individuals and provide hope as they seek solutions.
The effect of hearing loss on mental health has only been dealt with by a few studies even though hearing loss is very widespread.
Out of all people 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 noteworthy. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and assessed depression based on the severity and frequency 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 severe depression and hearing loss”.
Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances of Depression
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a very common chronic condition in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the chance of depression. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. Once again, researchers found that individuals with even slight hearing loss were almost twice as likely to have depression. What’s more, many over the age of 70 who have mild hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a relationship between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.
In order to communicate efficiently and stay active, hearing is crucial. Hearing issues can result in professional and social blunders that cause embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-esteem. If left unaddressed, these feelings can result in a gradual withdrawal. People withdraw from family and friends and also from physical activity. This seclusion, after a while, can lead to depression and loneliness.
Hearing Isn’t Only About Your Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its association with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all impacted by your hearing. This highlights the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are frequently a problem for individuals who deal with hearing loss.
The good news: The problem can be substantially enhanced by getting a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. These risks are greatly reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. Routine hearing tests need to be recommended by doctors. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can uncover, after all. And with people who might be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to watch for signs of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Never ignore your symptoms. If you think you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing test.