There is a solid correlation between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – they often go unacknowledged and untreated by patients and health professionals. For millions of people who are searching for solutions to mental health problems, acknowledging this relationship could lead to potential improvements.
We understand that hearing loss is widespread, but only a few studies have dealt with its impact on mental health.
Studies have found that more than 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had signs of clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is noteworthy. Depression was evaluated by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. 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, found “a considerable link between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss is extremely common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression goes up the more severe the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. Once again, researchers found that individuals with even slight hearing loss were almost two times as likely to experience depression. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been demonstrated to increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. While the research doesn’t prove that one is caused by the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.
Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating successfully. Hearing issues can cause professional and social blunders that cause anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Gradual withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are left unaddressed. Individuals withdraw from family and friends and also from physical activity. Over time, this can lead to isolation, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Simply About The 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 emphasizes the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. Individuals with hearing loss often struggle with fatigue, confusion, and frustration.
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 show that treating hearing loss early greatly reduces their risk. Regular hearing tests need to be encouraged by doctors. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. Caregivers should also watch for signs of depression in people who might be dealing with either or both. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and general loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Never dismiss your symptoms. If you believe you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing exam.