Man with untreated hearing loss depressed and looking out the window.

There is a strong connection between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.

And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – patients and health professionals frequently fail to recognize and address them. For millions of individuals who are seeking solutions to mental health problems, identifying this connection could lead to potential improvements.

We understand that hearing loss is common, but only a few studies have dealt with its impact on mental health.

Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show that over 11 percent of them also deal with clinical depression. This is noteworthy because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and assessed depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a considerable connection between severe depression and hearing loss”.

Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances of Depression

Age related hearing loss is extremely common in older individuals 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 assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. This research also revealed that the risk of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. In addition, many older than 70 who suffer from slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the danger of cognitive impairment and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. While the studies cannot prove that one is caused by the other, it is clear that it is a contributor.

In order to communicate successfully and remain active, hearing is essential. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the outcome of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. Progressive withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are left unaddressed. Individuals withdraw from family and friends as well as from physical activity. After a while, this can result in isolation, loneliness – and depression.

Hearing Isn’t Just About Your Ears

Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Hearing impacts your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This highlights the critical role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, aggravation, and exhaustion are frequently an issue 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 vital that physicians endorse regular hearing exams. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing exam can detect. Caregivers should also watch for indications of depression in people who may be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, fatigue, overall loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.

Don’t suffer alone. If you think you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing test.

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