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

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

And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – patients and health professionals frequently fail to acknowledge and address them. Realizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of people and provide hope as they seek solutions.

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

Out of all people who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show that over 11 percent of them also deal with clinical depression. This is significant because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and assessed depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “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 quite common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the risk of depression goes up the worse the hearing loss is. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. This study also reported that the risk of depression almost 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 raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. While the studies cannot prove that one causes the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.

Hearing is essential to being active and communicating efficiently. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the outcome of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. Gradual withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. People start to steer clear of physical activity and isolate themselves from friends and family. After a while, this can lead to isolation, loneliness – and depression.

Hearing Isn’t Only About Your Ears

Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all affected by your hearing. This highlights the critical role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, aggravation, and exhaustion are often an issue for people who have hearing loss.

The good news: The issue can be substantially enhanced by having a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. These risks are considerably reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. It is essential that physicians endorse routine hearing examinations. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. And with people who might be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for indications of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, overall loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.

Don’t suffer in silence. If you believe you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing assessment.

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