New research has demonstrated a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health.
Besides this connection, both disorders have something else in common – they frequently go overlooked and untreated by patients and health professionals. Recognizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and provide hope as they look for solutions.
The impact of hearing loss on mental health has only been dealt with by a few studies even though hearing loss is very prevalent.
Studies have revealed that over 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had signs of 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 considered depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noted “a substantial connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Age related hearing loss is quite common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the danger of depression goes up the more severe the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. Once again, researchers found that individuals with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost two times as likely to experience depression. Even more startling, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been demonstrated to raise the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. While the research doesn’t prove that one is caused by the other, it is evident that it is a contributor.
In order to communicate effectively and stay active, hearing is crucial. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the result of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. Gradual withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. People start to steer clear of physical activity and isolate themselves from family and friends. This isolation, over time, can lead to depression and loneliness.
Hearing Isn’t Only About The Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its association with depression. Hearing affects 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 overall healthcare. Confusion, aggravation, and exhaustion are frequently an issue for individuals who have hearing loss.
The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps prevent this problem. These risks are greatly decreased, according to research, with early treatment. It is vital that physicians advise routine hearing tests. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can reveal, after all. Caregivers should also watch for indications of depression in patients who might be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Never neglect your symptoms. Give us a call to schedule an appointment if you believe you might have hearing loss.