New research has shown a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.
Beyond this relationship, both disorders have something else in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and untreated by patients and health professionals. For millions of individuals who are looking for solutions to mental health problems, acknowledging this connection could lead to potential improvements.
The effect of hearing loss on mental health has only been dealt with by a few studies even though hearing loss is very common.
Out of all people 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 noteworthy. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and evaluated depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a considerable link between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss is quite common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the risk of depression rises the more severe the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. This study also reported that the risk of depression almost doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. In addition, many older than 70 who suffer from slight hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a link between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
In order to communicate effectively and continue to be active, hearing is crucial. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the outcome of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. If not addressed, these feelings can result in a gradual withdrawal. People begin to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. Over time, this can lead to solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Only About The Ears
Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t only about the ears. 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, aggravation, and fatigue are frequently an issue for individuals who deal with hearing loss.
The good news: The issue can be substantially enhanced by having a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early substantially reduces their risk. Regular hearing tests need to be recommended by physicians. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing exam can detect. Care providers should also watch for symptoms of depression in patients who may be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, fatigue, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Never dismiss your symptoms. Call us to schedule an appointment if you think you may have hearing loss.