New studies have revealed a strong link between hearing loss and mental health.
And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – health professionals and patients often fail to acknowledge and treat them. Knowing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and give hope as they look for solutions.
The effect of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very common.
Out of all people 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 significant. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and assessed depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They found depression was most common in people between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noticed “a considerable association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.
Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss is extremely common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the danger of depression rises the more severe the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing exam. This study also reported that the chance of depression nearly doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. What’s more, many older than 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a link between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.
Hearing is essential to being active and communicating efficiently. Hearing issues can result in professional and social blunders that cause embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-confidence. If not addressed, these feelings can lead to a gradual withdrawal. People begin to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from friends and family. This seclusion, after a while, 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 association with depression. Hearing affects your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This indicates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, aggravation, and exhaustion are frequently a problem for people who deal with hearing loss.
The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this problem. Studies show that treating hearing loss early significantly diminishes their risk. It is essential that physicians advise routine hearing tests. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can uncover, after all. Caregivers should also look for signs of depression in people who may be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.
Don’t suffer alone. If you suspect you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing test.
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