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New studies have revealed a strong link between hearing loss and mental health.

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

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

Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show 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 significant. Depression was assessed by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. People 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 profound depression and hearing loss”.

Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss

Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a very common chronic issue in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the risk of having depressive symptoms. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. This research also reported that the chance of depression nearly doubles in people with even slight hearing loss. In addition, many over the age of 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the danger of cognitive impairment and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one is caused by the other, it is clear that it is a contributor.

Hearing is essential to being active and communicating efficiently. Hearing issues can cause professional and social blunders that cause anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-esteem. If not addressed, these feelings can lead to a gradual withdrawal. People begin to avoid physical activity and isolate themselves from family and friends. Over time, this can result in solitude, loneliness – and depression.

Hearing is About More Than Just Ears

Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its association with depression. Hearing affects your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This emphasizes the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. Confusion, aggravation, and fatigue are often an issue for people who deal with hearing loss.

The good news: Finding professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing issue helps prevent this problem. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early greatly reduces their risk. Routine hearing exams need to be encouraged by doctors. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can reveal, after all. And with individuals who might be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to watch for symptoms of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, overall loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.

Don’t suffer alone. Give us a call to make an appointment if you suspect you might have hearing loss.

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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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