There is a solid connection between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.
And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – they frequently go overlooked and neglected by health professionals and patients. For millions of people who are looking for solutions to mental health problems, identifying this connection could bring potential improvements.
We understand that hearing loss is common, but only a few studies have dealt with its effect on mental health.
Out of all people 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. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a significant connection between severe depression and hearing loss”.
Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
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 increases the worse the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. Once again, researchers observed that people with even slight hearing loss were nearly two times as likely to have depression. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been shown to raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. 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 effectively and continue to be active, hearing is essential. Hearing problems can result in professional and social blunders that cause embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-esteem. If left unaddressed, these feelings can lead to a gradual withdrawal. Individuals withdraw from family and friends and also from physical activity. After a while, this can result in solitude, loneliness – and depression.
Hearing is About More Than Just Ears
Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t only about the ears. Hearing impacts your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This shows that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. People with hearing loss often struggle with fatigue, confusion, and frustration.
The good news: The problem can be substantially improved by having a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. These risks are substantially decreased, according to research, with early treatment. It is essential that physicians advise routine hearing tests. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can reveal, after all. And with people who might be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to watch for symptoms of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, fatigue, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.
Never dismiss your symptoms. Give us a call to schedule an appointment if you suspect you might have hearing loss.