There is a solid correlation between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – health professionals and patients often fail to recognize and address them. For millions of people who are searching for solutions to mental health issues, acknowledging this relationship could lead to potential improvements.
We know that hearing loss is common, but only a few studies have dealt with its impact on mental health.
Studies have found that more than 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is significant. Depression was evaluated by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. They found depression was most prevalent in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noted “a substantial association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that people with age-related hearing loss (an extremely common chronic issue in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the risk of having depressive symptoms. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. This study also revealed that the chance of depression almost doubles in individuals with even minor hearing loss. Even more startling, 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. Clearly, there’s a relationship between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.
In order to communicate efficiently and continue to be active, hearing is crucial. Hearing problems can result in professional and social blunders that trigger embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-esteem. Progressive withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. People start to steer clear of physical activity and isolate themselves from friends and family. After a while, this can lead to isolation, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t simply about the ears. Hearing affects your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This shows that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. People with hearing loss frequently deal with exhaustion, confusion, and aggravation.
The good news: Finding professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing problem helps prevent this problem. These risks are substantially reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. Regular hearing exams need to be recommended by physicians. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing test can diagnose. Care providers should also watch for signs of depression in patients who may be dealing with either or both. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and general loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.
Don’t suffer alone. If you suspect you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing test.