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New studies have shown a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health.

Besides this link, both disorders have something else in common – patients and health professionals often fail to recognize and address them. Realizing there is a connection could potentially enhance mental health for millions of individuals and offer hope as they look for solutions.

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

Out of all people 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 instance of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a substantial link between severe depression and hearing loss”.

Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss

Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic issue in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the risk of having depressive symptoms. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing exam. This study also reported that the chance of depression almost doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been demonstrated to raise the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. While the studies cannot prove that one causes the other, it is evident that it is a contributor.

In order to communicate efficiently and continue to be active, hearing is essential. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the consequence of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. Progressive withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are left unaddressed. People withdraw from family and friends as well as from physical activity. After a while, this can result in isolation, loneliness – and depression.

Hearing Isn’t Just About Your Ears

Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t simply about the ears. Hearing affects your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This emphasizes the vital role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and exhaustion are frequently an issue for people who deal with hearing loss.

The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing issue helps prevent this problem. These risks are considerably decreased, according to research, with early treatment. Regular hearing tests need to be recommended by doctors. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing exam can detect. And with individuals who may be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for indications of depression. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and overall loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.

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

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References

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/fullarticle/1835392
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/article-abstract/2781095
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/fullarticle/2682653

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