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

There is a solid connection between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.

Besides this link, both conditions have something else in common – they often go overlooked and untreated by patients and health professionals. Recognizing there is a relationship could potentially enhance mental health for millions of individuals and offer hope as they seek solutions.

The effect of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very prevalent.

Research has revealed 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. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and considered depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. They found depression was most prevalent in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “a considerable connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.

Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss

Age related hearing loss is extremely common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the danger of depression goes up the more severe the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. Once more, researchers observed that individuals with even a little bit of hearing loss were nearly two times as likely to experience depression. In addition, many over the age of 70 who have mild hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one causes the other, it is clear that it is a contributor.

In order to communicate successfully and remain active, hearing is essential. Hearing issues can cause professional and social blunders that trigger anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-esteem. If not addressed, these feelings can lead to a gradual withdrawal. People begin to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. This seclusion, after a while, can result in depression and loneliness.

Hearing Isn’t Only About The Ears

Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Hearing affects your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This highlights the vital role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, aggravation, and exhaustion are often an issue for people who suffer from hearing loss.

The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this issue. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early significantly diminishes their risk. Regular hearing exams need to be encouraged by physicians. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can uncover, after all. And with individuals who might be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to look for symptoms of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.

Never dismiss your symptoms. If you believe you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing assessment.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.