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New studies have shown a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.

Besides this relationship, both disorders have something else in common – health professionals and patients often fail to acknowledge and treat them. Knowing there is a relationship could potentially improve mental health for millions of people and provide hope as they look for solutions.

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

Out of all individuals 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 noteworthy. Depression was evaluated by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a basic questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. They discovered depression was most common in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noticed “a significant association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.

Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression

Age related hearing loss is extremely common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression rises the more severe the hearing loss is. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. This research also reported that the chance of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. In addition, many over the age of 70 who suffer from slight hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a relationship between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.

In order to communicate effectively and continue to be active, hearing is crucial. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the consequence of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. If left unaddressed, these feelings can lead to a steady withdrawal. Individuals withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. Over time, this can result in solitude, loneliness – and depression.

Hearing Isn’t Just About The Ears

Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t only about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all affected by your hearing. This indicates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, aggravation, and exhaustion are frequently an issue for individuals who have hearing loss.

The good news: The issue can be substantially improved by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. These risks are considerably reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. It is essential that physicians advise routine hearing exams. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing test can detect. And with individuals who may be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to watch for symptoms of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, exhaustion, overall loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.

Don’t suffer in silence. If you believe you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing exam.

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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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