There is a solid connection between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – patients and health professionals frequently fail to acknowledge and treat them. Realizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of people and give hope as they look for solutions.
We know that hearing loss is common, but only a few studies have dealt with its impact on mental health.
Research has found that more than 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. This is noteworthy because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was analyzed by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a basic questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. They discovered depression was most widespread in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noticed “a considerable association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
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 observed that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost two times as likely to experience depression. In addition, many over the age of 70 who have slight hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the chance of cognitive impairment and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a connection between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating successfully. Hearing problems can lead to professional and social blunders that cause anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-esteem. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are not addressed. People begin to steer clear of physical activity and isolate themselves from family and friends. This isolation, after a while, can lead to depression and loneliness.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its connection with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all impacted by your hearing. This shows that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Confusion, frustration, and exhaustion are often a problem for people who have hearing loss.
The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing issue helps prevent this issue. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early substantially decreases their risk. Routine hearing exams need to be encouraged by doctors. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can uncover, after all. And with people who may be coping with hearing loss, caregivers need to look for indications of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Never dismiss your symptoms. Call us to schedule an appointment if you believe you might have hearing loss.