New research has shown a strong link between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – patients and health professionals often fail to acknowledge and treat them. For millions of people who are seeking solutions to mental health problems, recognizing this connection could bring potential improvements.
The impact of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very prevalent.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show 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 significant. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and considered depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They discovered depression was most common in people between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a substantial link between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances of Depression
Age related hearing loss is very common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression increases the more severe the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. This study also revealed that the risk of depression nearly 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 decline and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one causes the other, it is evident that it is a contributor.
In order to communicate successfully and continue to be active, hearing is crucial. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the outcome of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. If not addressed, these feelings can result in a steady withdrawal. People begin to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from friends and family. Over time, this can lead to solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing Isn’t Simply About The Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its connection with depression. Hearing affects your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This demonstrates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Individuals with hearing loss often deal with fatigue, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this issue. These risks are substantially decreased, according to research, with early treatment. Routine hearing exams need to be encouraged by doctors. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can uncover, after all. And with individuals who may be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to watch for symptoms of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, fatigue, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Never ignore your symptoms. If you think you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing test.