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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 – they often go overlooked and untreated by patients and health professionals. For millions of people who are seeking solutions to mental health issues, identifying this connection could bring potential improvements.

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

Studies have found 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 analyzed by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. They found depression was most common in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a substantial connection between severe depression and hearing loss”.

Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression

Age related hearing loss is extremely common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the risk of depression goes up the more severe the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. This study also revealed that the chance of depression nearly doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been demonstrated to raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Obviously, there’s a relationship between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been established.

In order to communicate successfully and stay 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. Gradual withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are not addressed. Individuals withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. 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 simply about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all impacted by your hearing. This indicates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, frustration, and exhaustion are frequently an issue for individuals who have hearing loss.

The good news: The problem can be significantly improved by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. Studies show that treating hearing loss early substantially decreases their risk. Routine hearing tests 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 dealing with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for signs of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, fatigue, overall loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.

Never dismiss your symptoms. Give us a call to make an appointment if you think you may have hearing loss.

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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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