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New studies have revealed a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health.

Besides this connection, both conditions have something else in common – health professionals and patients frequently fail to acknowledge and address them. Knowing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of individuals and give hope as they look for solutions.

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

Studies have revealed 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. Depression was analyzed by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a significant connection between severe depression and hearing loss”.

Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances 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 goes up the worse the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. Once again, researchers observed that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were almost two times as likely to have depression. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been shown to increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. While the studies cannot prove that one causes the other, it is clear that it is a contributor.

In order to communicate effectively and stay active, hearing is crucial. Hearing problems can cause professional and social blunders that trigger embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-esteem. Gradual withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. People start to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from family and friends. After a while, this can lead to isolation, loneliness – and depression.

Hearing is About More Than Just Ears

Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its association with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all affected by your hearing. This indicates that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, aggravation, and exhaustion are often an issue for people who deal with hearing loss.

The good news: Getting professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing issue helps counter this problem. Studies demonstrate that treating hearing loss early significantly reduces their risk. Regular hearing tests need to be encouraged by doctors. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can uncover, after all. Caregivers should also watch for indications of depression in patients who may be dealing with either or both. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and general loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.

Don’t suffer alone. Call us to schedule an appointment if you suspect you might 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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