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There is a strong connection between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.

Besides this link, both disorders have something else in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and untreated by patients and health professionals. For millions of individuals who are searching for solutions to mental health issues, acknowledging this relationship could bring potential improvements.

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

Studies have found that more than 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had signs of clinical depression. This is significant because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was analyzed by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a basic questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “a considerable connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.

Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances of Depression

Age related hearing loss is quite common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the risk of depression rises the more severe the hearing loss is. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. Once more, researchers found that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost two times as likely to experience depression. In addition, many older than 70 who have slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. While the studies cannot prove that one is caused by the other, it is evident that it is a contributor.

Hearing is essential to being active and communicating successfully. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the outcome of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. If left unaddressed, these feelings can lead to a gradual withdrawal. Individuals withdraw from family and friends and also from physical activity. After a while, this can result in solitude, loneliness – and depression.

Hearing Isn’t Only About Your Ears

Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t only about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all impacted by your hearing. This highlights the critical role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and exhaustion are often a problem for people who suffer from hearing loss.

The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing issue helps counter this problem. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early substantially reduces their risk. It is essential that physicians endorse regular hearing tests. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can uncover, after all. And with individuals who may be dealing with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for symptoms of depression. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and overall loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.

Never ignore your symptoms. If you suspect you have hearing loss, call us 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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