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There is a strong correlation between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.

And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and neglected by patients and health professionals. Realizing there is a relationship could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and offer hope as they seek solutions.

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

Studies have found that more than 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is noteworthy. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and considered depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They discovered depression was most common in people between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “a significant connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.

Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss

Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that people with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic condition in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the risk of depression. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. Once more, researchers observed that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost two times 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 demonstrated to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. While the research doesn’t prove that one is caused by the other, it is clear that it is a contributor.

In order to communicate efficiently and stay active, hearing is crucial. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the result of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. Gradual withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. Individuals withdraw from family and friends as well as from physical activity. This seclusion, after a while, can result in depression and loneliness.

Hearing Isn’t Simply About The Ears

Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t only about the ears. Hearing impacts your overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This emphasizes the vital role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are often an issue for people who suffer from hearing loss.

The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing problem helps prevent this problem. These risks are substantially reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. Routine hearing exams need to be recommended by physicians. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can uncover, after all. And with individuals who might be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to look for signs of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.

Never neglect your symptoms. If you suspect you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing assessment.

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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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