There is a strong correlation between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.
Beyond this relationship, both disorders have something else in common – patients and health professionals often fail to recognize and treat them. Recognizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of people and offer hope as they seek solutions.
The effect of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very widespread.
Out of all people 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 severity and frequency of symptoms. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noted “a substantial association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that people with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic condition in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the chance of depression. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. Once more, researchers found that individuals with even a little bit of hearing loss were nearly two times as likely to experience depression. Even more startling, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been shown to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Clearly, there’s a link between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating efficiently. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the result of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. If left unaddressed, these feelings can lead to a steady withdrawal. People start to steer clear of physical activity and isolate themselves from friends and family. This isolation, over time, can lead to 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. Hearing impacts your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This highlights the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. Individuals with hearing loss frequently struggle with fatigue, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: The issue can be substantially improved by getting a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. These risks are substantially decreased, according to research, with early treatment. It is vital that physicians endorse routine hearing exams. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing exam can detect. And with people who might be dealing with hearing loss, care providers need to look for symptoms of depression. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and overall loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.
Never ignore your symptoms. Give us a call to schedule an appointment if you think you may have hearing loss.