There is a solid link between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.
Beyond this relationship, both conditions have something else in common – patients and health professionals frequently fail to recognize and address them. For millions of individuals who are looking for solutions to mental health problems, identifying this connection could lead to potential improvements.
We understand that hearing loss is widespread, but only a few studies have addressed its effect on mental health.
Out of all people who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show that over 11 percent of them also have clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is noteworthy. Depression was assessed by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. 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 connection between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances of Depression
Age related hearing loss is quite common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression rises the worse the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. Once again, researchers found that individuals with even slight hearing loss were almost two times as likely to have depression. What’s more, many older than 70 who suffer from slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one is caused by the other, it is clear that it is a contributor.
In order to communicate effectively and continue to be active, hearing is crucial. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence 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 left unaddressed. People begin to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from friends and family. Over time, this can lead to solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Just About The Ears
Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Hearing impacts your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This shows that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. People with hearing loss often struggle with exhaustion, confusion, and aggravation.
The good news: The problem can be substantially improved by having a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early significantly decreases their risk. Routine hearing tests need to be recommended by doctors. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing test can diagnose. Care providers should also look for symptoms of depression in patients who might be dealing with either or both. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and overall loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.
Never dismiss your symptoms. If you think you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing test.