There is a solid link 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 neglected by patients and health professionals. Knowing there is a connection could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and give hope as they seek solutions.
The effect 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. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is significant. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and evaluated depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They found depression was most common in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noticed “a considerable connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss is quite common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression rises the worse the hearing loss is. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. This research also revealed that the risk of depression almost doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. Even more startling, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been shown to raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. While the research doesn’t prove that one causes the other, it is clear that it is a contributor.
In order to communicate efficiently and remain active, hearing is essential. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the consequence of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are left unaddressed. People begin to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. After a while, this can result in isolation, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Only About Your Ears
Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t simply about the ears. Hearing impacts your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This demonstrates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Individuals with hearing loss often deal with exhaustion, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: Finding professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing problem helps prevent this problem. Studies show that treating hearing loss early significantly decreases their risk. It is vital that physicians endorse routine hearing exams. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing test can diagnose. And with people who might be dealing with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for symptoms of depression. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and overall loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Never ignore your symptoms. Give us a call to make an appointment if you think you might have hearing loss.