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

Beyond this connection, both disorders have something else in common – they often go overlooked and untreated by patients and health professionals. Knowing there is a connection could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and provide hope as they seek solutions.

We know that hearing loss is common, but only a handful of studies have addressed its effect on mental health.

Studies have found that over 11 percent of individuals 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. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and assessed depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. They found depression was most common in people between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “a significant association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.

Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss

Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic issue in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the risk of having depressive symptoms. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. 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 individuals over 70 which has also been shown to increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. Clearly, there’s a connection between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.

In order to communicate efficiently and stay active, hearing is essential. Hearing issues can result in professional and social blunders that trigger anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Gradual withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. Individuals withdraw from friends and family and also from physical activity. Over time, this can result in isolation, loneliness – and depression.

Hearing Isn’t Simply About The Ears

Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all impacted by your hearing. This demonstrates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are frequently an issue for people who suffer from hearing loss.

The good news: The issue can be substantially enhanced by having a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies show that treating hearing loss early significantly reduces their risk. It is vital that physicians advise regular hearing exams. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing test can diagnose. And with people who might be coping with hearing loss, caregivers need to watch for indications of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, overall loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.

Don’t suffer alone. If you believe you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing exam.

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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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