New studies have shown a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health.
Beyond this relationship, both disorders have something else in common – they often go unacknowledged and neglected by patients and health professionals. Knowing there is a relationship could potentially enhance mental health for millions of individuals and offer hope as they look for solutions.
We understand that hearing loss is common, but only a few studies have dealt with its effect on mental health.
Studies have revealed that more than 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. This is noteworthy because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and assessed depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. They found 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, saw “a substantial association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
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 increases the worse the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. Once again, researchers observed that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were nearly two times as likely to have depression. In addition, many over the age of 70 who suffer from slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. While the studies cannot prove that one causes the other, it is evident that it is a contributor.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating effectively. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the outcome of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. If left unaddressed, these feelings can result in a gradual withdrawal. People begin to avoid physical activity and isolate themselves from family and friends. This seclusion, over time, 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 relationship with depression. Hearing affects your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This indicates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are frequently an issue for people who deal with hearing loss.
The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this problem. These risks are greatly reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. Routine hearing exams need to be recommended by physicians. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing exam can detect. And with people who may be dealing with hearing loss, care providers need to look for indications of depression. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and overall loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Don’t suffer alone. Give us a call to make an appointment if you suspect you may have hearing loss.