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New research has demonstrated a strong link between hearing loss and mental health.

Beyond this link, both disorders have something else in common – health professionals and patients often fail to acknowledge and address them. Recognizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and give hope as they seek solutions.

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

Out of all people 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 analyzed by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a substantial link between profound depression and hearing loss”.

Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression

Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that people with age-related hearing loss (a very 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. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. This research also reported that the chance of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even minor hearing loss. Even more startling, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been shown to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. While the research doesn’t prove that one causes the other, it is evident that it is a contributor.

Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating successfully. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the consequence of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. If not addressed, these feelings can lead to a gradual withdrawal. People start to avoid physical activity and isolate themselves from friends and family. This seclusion, after a while, can lead to depression and loneliness.

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 general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This demonstrates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, aggravation, and fatigue are frequently a problem for individuals who deal with hearing loss.

The good news: The issue can be substantially enhanced by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. These risks are significantly decreased, according to studies, with early treatment. Regular hearing exams need to be encouraged by physicians. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing test can diagnose. Caregivers should also watch for indications of depression in people who might be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.

Don’t suffer in silence. Give us a call to make an appointment if you think 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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