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 disorders have in common – they often go unacknowledged and neglected by patients and health professionals. Recognizing there is a relationship 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 dealt with by a few studies even though hearing loss is very common.

Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows that over 11 percent of them also deal with 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 assessed depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a significant link between severe 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 danger of depression goes up the more severe the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. This research also revealed that the risk of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. What’s more, many over the age of 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the chance of cognitive decline and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one causes the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.

Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating effectively. Hearing issues can result in professional and social blunders that cause embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are not addressed. People start to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. This isolation, over time, can result in depression and loneliness.

Hearing is About More Than Just Ears

Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t simply about the ears. Hearing impacts your general 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. People with hearing loss frequently struggle with exhaustion, confusion, and frustration.

The good news: The issue can be significantly enhanced by having a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies show that treating hearing loss early significantly diminishes their risk. It is vital that physicians endorse regular hearing examinations. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing test can detect. And with people who may be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to look for indications of depression. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and general loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.

Never ignore your symptoms. If you think you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing assessment.

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