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

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

And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and untreated by patients and health professionals. For millions of people who are looking for solutions to mental health issues, acknowledging this connection could lead to potential improvements.

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

Studies have found that over 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had signs of clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is significant. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and considered depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noted “a significant connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.

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 chance of depression goes up the worse the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing exam. Once more, researchers observed that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were nearly twice as likely to have depression. In addition, many older than 70 who suffer from slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a relationship between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.

In order to communicate successfully and stay active, hearing is essential. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the consequence of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. Gradual withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are left unaddressed. Individuals withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. This seclusion, after a while, can lead to depression and loneliness.

Hearing Isn’t Simply About Your Ears

Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its relationship with depression. Hearing impacts your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This demonstrates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Confusion, aggravation, and exhaustion are often an issue for people who suffer from hearing loss.

The good news: The problem can be significantly improved by having a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies show that treating hearing loss early greatly decreases their risk. Regular hearing tests need to be encouraged by doctors. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. And with individuals who may be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to watch for indications of depression. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and general loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.

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

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NEW WEBINAR: Depression, Hearing Loss, and Treatment with Hearing Aids

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