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

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

Beyond this relationship, both conditions have something else in common – they often go unacknowledged and untreated by health professionals and patients. For millions of people who are searching for solutions to mental health problems, recognizing this connection could lead to potential improvements.

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

Studies have revealed that over 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. This is noteworthy 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 substantial connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.

Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances of Depression

Age related hearing loss is extremely 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 were evaluated for depression. Once more, researchers found that individuals with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost two times as likely to experience depression. What’s more, many over the age of 70 who have mild hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the danger of cognitive impairment and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a connection between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.

In order to communicate effectively and remain active, hearing is crucial. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the outcome of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. Progressive withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are left unaddressed. People withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. This isolation, over time, can lead to depression and loneliness.

Hearing is About More Than Just Ears

Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t only about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all affected by your hearing. This demonstrates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. People with hearing loss frequently deal with fatigue, confusion, and aggravation.

The good news: The issue can be substantially enhanced by having a hearing test and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early significantly decreases their risk. Regular hearing exams need to be encouraged by physicians. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing test can diagnose. Care providers should also watch for indications of depression in people who might be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, overall loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.

Never dismiss your symptoms. Call us to schedule an appointment if you think you may have hearing loss.

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