New research has shown a strong link between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – patients and health professionals frequently fail to recognize and address them. For millions of people who are seeking solutions to mental health problems, acknowledging this relationship could bring potential improvements.
We understand that hearing loss is widespread, but only a handful of 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. This is noteworthy because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and considered depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. They found depression was most widespread in people between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “a significant association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic issue in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the chance of depression. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. Once more, researchers observed that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were nearly two times as likely to experience depression. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been demonstrated to raise the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. While the studies cannot prove that one is caused by the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating effectively. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the result of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. Gradual withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are not addressed. People start to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. This seclusion, over time, can result in depression and loneliness.
Hearing is About More Than Just 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 emphasizes the critical role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. People with hearing loss often struggle with fatigue, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this issue. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early greatly reduces their risk. It is vital that physicians advise routine hearing tests. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can uncover, after all. And with people who might be dealing with hearing loss, care providers need to look for signs of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Never neglect your symptoms. If you think you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing test.