There is a solid connection between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – they frequently go overlooked and neglected by patients and health professionals. Knowing there is a connection could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and give hope as they seek solutions.
The impact of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very prevalent.
Studies have revealed that over 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had signs of clinical depression. This is significant because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was analyzed by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. 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, noticed “a substantial association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances of Depression
Age related hearing loss is quite common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the danger of depression goes up the worse the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing exam. 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 have slight hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the danger of cognitive impairment 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 efficiently. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the consequence of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are left unaddressed. People begin to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from friends and family. 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 connection with depression. Hearing impacts your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This emphasizes the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and exhaustion are often a problem for individuals who deal with hearing loss.
The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps prevent this issue. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early significantly decreases their risk. It is essential that physicians endorse regular hearing exams. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing test can detect. And with individuals who may be coping with hearing loss, caregivers need to watch for indications of depression. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and overall loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.
Never neglect your symptoms. Give us a call to make an appointment if you suspect you may have hearing loss.