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

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

And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – patients and health professionals frequently fail to recognize and treat them. For millions of individuals who are searching for solutions to mental health problems, acknowledging this relationship could lead to potential improvements.

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

Research has found that more than 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had signs of clinical depression. This is noteworthy because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and evaluated depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. 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 significant connection between profound depression and hearing loss”.

Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss

Age related hearing loss is very common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression rises the worse the hearing loss is. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. Once more, researchers observed that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost two times as likely to have depression. In addition, many older than 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the chance of cognitive impairment and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one causes 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-esteem can be the result of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. If left unaddressed, these feelings can result in a gradual withdrawal. 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 only 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 overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, frustration, and exhaustion are often a problem for people who deal with hearing loss.

The good news: The problem can be substantially improved by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early greatly diminishes their risk. Regular hearing tests need to be encouraged by physicians. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can reveal, after all. And with people who might be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to look for signs of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, overall loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.

Don’t suffer in silence. Call us to schedule an appointment if you believe you may 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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