There is a strong link between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – they often go unacknowledged and untreated by health professionals and patients. Knowing there is a connection could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and offer hope as they seek solutions.
We understand that hearing loss is common, but only a few studies have addressed its impact on mental health.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show that over 11 percent of them also deal with clinical depression. This is significant because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and assessed depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They found depression was most prevalent in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “a significant association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss is very common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the risk of depression goes up the more severe the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. Once again, researchers found that individuals with even slight hearing loss were nearly twice as likely to have depression. In addition, many over the age of 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the chance of cognitive decline and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one is caused by the other, it is clear that it is a contributor.
Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating effectively. Hearing problems can cause professional and social blunders that cause anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are not addressed. Individuals withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. Over time, this can result in isolation, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Only About Your Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its association with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all affected by your hearing. This shows that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Individuals with hearing loss often deal with fatigue, confusion, and aggravation.
The good news: The problem can be substantially improved by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. These risks are substantially reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. Regular hearing tests need to be encouraged by doctors. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can uncover, after all. Caregivers should also look for symptoms of depression in people who might be dealing with either or both. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and overall loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Never ignore your symptoms. If you think you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing test.