There is a solid correlation between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – health professionals and patients often fail to recognize and treat them. Realizing there is a relationship could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and give hope as they look for solutions.
We know that hearing loss is common, but only a handful of studies have dealt with its effect on mental health.
Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows that over 11 percent of them also deal with clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is significant. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and assessed depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They discovered depression was most prevalent in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a considerable connection between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that people with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic condition in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the risk of having depressive symptoms. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. Once more, researchers found that individuals with even slight 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 demonstrated to increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. Clearly, there’s a link between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating efficiently. Hearing issues can cause professional and social blunders that trigger anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-esteem. If not addressed, these feelings can lead to a steady withdrawal. Individuals withdraw from family and friends as well as from physical activity. Over time, this can result in solitude, 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 overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This emphasizes the vital role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. People with hearing loss often struggle with exhaustion, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this issue. These risks are greatly reduced, according to research, with early treatment. Regular hearing exams need to be recommended by doctors. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing test can diagnose. Caregivers should also watch for signs of depression in people who might be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer in silence. Give us a call to schedule an appointment if you think you might have hearing loss.