There is a solid link between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.
Beyond this connection, both conditions have something else in common – health professionals and patients often fail to acknowledge and treat them. Recognizing there is a connection could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and give hope as they look for solutions.
We know that hearing loss is widespread, but only a few studies have addressed its effect on mental health.
Research has found that over 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had signs of 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 considered depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a considerable link between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic condition in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the chance of having depressive symptoms. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. Once more, researchers found that people with even slight hearing loss were almost two times as likely to have depression. Even more startling, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people 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 demonstrated.
Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating effectively. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the consequence of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. If not addressed, these feelings can result in a gradual withdrawal. People begin to avoid physical activity and isolate themselves from friends and family. Over time, this can result in solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Only About Your Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its relationship with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all affected by your hearing. This shows that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are often an issue for people who have hearing loss.
The good news: The problem can be significantly enhanced by having a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. These risks are significantly reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. It is essential that physicians recommend regular hearing tests. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing test can detect. And with people who may be dealing with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for indications of depression. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and overall loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.
Don’t suffer in silence. If you think you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing test.