New studies have shown a strong link between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – they frequently go overlooked and neglected by patients and health professionals. Realizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of people and offer hope as they look for solutions.
The impact of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very prevalent.
Research has found that over 11 percent of people 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 assessed by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. 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 connection between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic issue in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the chance of having depressive symptoms. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing exam. Once more, researchers found that individuals with even a little bit of hearing loss were nearly twice 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 shown to raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Obviously, there’s a link between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
In order to communicate efficiently and stay active, hearing is crucial. Hearing issues can result in professional and social blunders that cause embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-confidence. If left unaddressed, these feelings can lead to a steady withdrawal. People withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. After a while, this can result in isolation, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its relationship with depression. Hearing affects your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This emphasizes the critical role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are often a problem for people who deal with hearing loss.
The good news: The problem can be significantly improved by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies show that treating hearing loss early substantially diminishes their risk. It is vital that physicians endorse routine hearing examinations. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing exam can detect. Care providers should also look for symptoms of depression in patients who may be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer in silence. If you believe you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing exam.