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

New studies have revealed a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.

And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – patients and health professionals frequently fail to recognize and treat them. Recognizing there is a relationship could potentially improve mental health for millions of people and provide hope as they look for solutions.

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

Research has revealed that more than 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is noteworthy. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and evaluated depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They found depression was most prevalent in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a considerable link between profound depression and hearing loss”.

Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss

Age related hearing loss is very common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the risk of depression goes up the more severe the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. This study also revealed that the risk of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. Even more startling, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been shown to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Obviously, there’s a connection between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.

In order to communicate effectively and stay active, hearing is essential. Hearing problems can cause professional and social blunders that trigger embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are left unaddressed. People begin to avoid physical activity and isolate themselves from family and friends. 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 indicates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Individuals with hearing loss frequently deal with exhaustion, confusion, and aggravation.

The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this problem. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early greatly diminishes their risk. It is essential that physicians recommend regular hearing exams. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. Care providers should also watch for indications of depression in patients who might be dealing with either or both. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and overall loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.

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

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