New research has demonstrated a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – they frequently go overlooked and neglected by patients and health professionals. Knowing there is a connection could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and provide hope as they seek solutions.
The impact of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very widespread.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows that over 11 percent of them also have 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 evaluated depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “a substantial connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that people with age-related hearing loss (a very common chronic issue in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the chance of having depressive symptoms. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. Once more, researchers found that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost twice as likely to have depression. What’s more, many over the age of 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the danger of cognitive impairment and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. While the studies cannot prove that one is caused by the other, it is clear that it is a contributor.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating effectively. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the outcome of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. If not addressed, these feelings can lead to a steady withdrawal. People withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. After a while, this can lead to isolation, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Simply About Your Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its connection with depression. Hearing impacts your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This emphasizes the vital role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Individuals with hearing loss often deal with exhaustion, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: The problem can be substantially improved by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies show that treating hearing loss early substantially reduces their risk. Routine hearing tests need to be recommended by physicians. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. Care providers should also look for symptoms of depression in patients who might be dealing with either or both. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and overall loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Don’t suffer in silence. If you suspect you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing exam.