There is a strong connection between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – patients and health professionals often fail to acknowledge and address them. Knowing there is a connection could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and offer hope as they look for solutions.
We understand that hearing loss is widespread, but only a few 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 evaluated depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They discovered depression was most common in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noted “a considerable connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression
Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic issue in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the risk of having depressive symptoms. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. This research also revealed that the chance of depression nearly doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. What’s more, many over the age of 70 who have slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the risk 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 crucial to being active and communicating successfully. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the result of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. Gradual withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are left unaddressed. People start to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from friends and family. This seclusion, after a while, can result in depression and loneliness.
Hearing Isn’t Simply About Your Ears
Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all impacted by your hearing. This shows that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. 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 soonest sign of a hearing issue helps prevent this issue. These risks are considerably decreased, according to studies, with early treatment. It is vital that physicians advise regular hearing exams. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing test can detect. Care providers should also watch for signs of depression in patients who might be dealing with either or both. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and general loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.
Don’t suffer in silence. Call us to make an appointment if you suspect you may have hearing loss.