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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 research.

And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and untreated by health professionals and patients. For millions of individuals who are looking for solutions to mental health problems, identifying this connection could lead to potential improvements.

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

Research has revealed that more than 11 percent of people 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 noteworthy. Depression was evaluated by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a considerable connection between severe 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 chance of having depressive symptoms. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. This study also revealed that the risk of depression nearly doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. Even more startling, 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. While the studies cannot prove that one causes the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.

In order to communicate efficiently and continue to be active, hearing is essential. Hearing issues can cause professional and social blunders that trigger embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-esteem. If left unaddressed, these feelings can result in a steady withdrawal. People begin to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. This isolation, 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 just about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all affected by your hearing. This shows that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are often an issue for people who suffer from hearing loss.

The good news: The issue can be significantly improved by having a hearing test and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early greatly diminishes their risk. Routine hearing tests need to be recommended by physicians. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing test can detect. Caregivers should also watch for signs of depression in people who might be dealing with either or both. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and overall loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.

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

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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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