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

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

And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – health professionals and patients often fail to recognize and treat them. Knowing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and offer hope as they seek solutions.

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

Out of all individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows 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. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and evaluated depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. They found depression was most prevalent in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “a considerable association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.

Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss

Age related hearing loss is quite common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression increases the more severe the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. Once again, researchers observed that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost twice as likely to experience depression. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been shown to raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Clearly, there’s a link between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.

In order to communicate successfully and continue to be active, hearing is crucial. 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 result in a gradual withdrawal. People start to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. This isolation, after a while, can lead to depression and loneliness.

Hearing Isn’t Simply About The Ears

Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just 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 plays an important part. Individuals with hearing loss often deal with exhaustion, confusion, and frustration.

The good news: Finding professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing issue helps prevent this problem. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early significantly diminishes their risk. It is essential that physicians advise routine hearing exams. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can reveal, after all. And with people who may be dealing with hearing loss, care providers need to look for symptoms of depression. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and general loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.

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

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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.