There is a solid link between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.
Besides this link, both conditions have something else in common – they often go overlooked and neglected by health professionals and patients. Recognizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of people and give hope as they seek solutions.
We understand that hearing loss is common, but only a few studies have addressed its effect on mental health.
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 noteworthy. Depression was evaluated by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a substantial link between profound depression and hearing loss”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that individuals with age-related hearing loss (an extremely common chronic condition in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the risk of depression. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. This research also reported that the chance of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even minor hearing loss. In addition, many older than 70 who have slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the danger of cognitive impairment and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. Obviously, there’s a relationship between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.
In order to communicate successfully and stay active, hearing is crucial. Hearing problems can cause professional and social blunders that cause anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are not addressed. People begin to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. This seclusion, over time, can lead to depression and loneliness.
Hearing Isn’t Just About Your Ears
Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its connection with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all affected by your hearing. This indicates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, frustration, and exhaustion are often a problem for individuals who suffer from hearing loss.
The good news: Finding professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this issue. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early greatly diminishes their risk. Regular hearing tests need to be encouraged by physicians. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can reveal, after all. Caregivers should also watch for signs of depression in people who may be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, overall loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Never ignore your symptoms. Call us to make an appointment if you think you might have hearing loss.