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

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

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

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

Research has revealed that more than 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. This is significant because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was evaluated by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a basic questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate 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”.

Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression

Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a very common chronic condition in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the risk of having depressive symptoms. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. Once again, researchers found that individuals with even a little bit of hearing loss were nearly two times as likely to have depression. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been demonstrated to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Clearly, there’s a link between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.

Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating effectively. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the consequence of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. Progressive withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. People begin to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from friends and family. This seclusion, over time, can lead to depression and loneliness.

Hearing is About More Than Just Ears

Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t simply about the ears. 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, frustration, and fatigue are often a problem for individuals who deal with hearing loss.

The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing issue helps counter this problem. These risks are considerably reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. Routine hearing tests need to be recommended by physicians. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can reveal, after all. Caregivers should also look for symptoms of depression in people who may be dealing with either or both. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and overall loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.

Never ignore your symptoms. Give us a call to schedule an appointment if you believe you might have hearing loss.

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NEW WEBINAR: Depression, Hearing Loss, and Treatment with Hearing Aids

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.
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