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

There is a strong link between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.

Besides this link, both conditions have something else in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and neglected by patients and health professionals. For millions of individuals who are looking for solutions to mental health problems, recognizing this connection could lead to potential improvements.

The impact of hearing loss on mental health has only been dealt with by a few studies even though hearing loss is very common.

Studies have found that more than 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had signs of 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 evaluated depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. They found depression was most prevalent in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noticed “a significant connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.

Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss

Age related hearing loss is very common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the risk of depression rises the more severe the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. This research also revealed that the chance of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. What’s more, many older than 70 who suffer from slight hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the chance of cognitive impairment and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a link between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.

Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating effectively. Hearing issues can result in professional and social blunders that trigger embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Gradual withdrawal can be the outcome 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 solitude, loneliness – and depression.

Hearing is About More Than Just Ears

Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its relationship with depression. Hearing impacts your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This highlights the vital role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. Confusion, aggravation, and exhaustion are frequently a problem for individuals who have hearing loss.

The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing problem helps prevent this problem. These risks are greatly decreased, according to studies, with early treatment. Regular hearing exams need to be recommended by doctors. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can uncover, after all. And with individuals who might be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for signs of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, overall loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.

Never neglect your symptoms. Give us a call to make an appointment if you believe you may have hearing loss.

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