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There is a strong link between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.

Besides this connection, both disorders have something else in common – health professionals and patients frequently fail to recognize and treat them. For millions of individuals who are seeking solutions to mental health problems, identifying this relationship could lead to potential improvements.

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

Research has found that more than 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. This is significant because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and assessed 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 scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “a considerable association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.

Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss

Age related hearing loss is very common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression goes up the more severe the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. Once again, researchers found that people with even slight hearing loss were nearly two times as likely to have depression. What’s more, many older than 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the danger of cognitive decline and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. Clearly, there’s a connection between the two even though a direct cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.

Hearing is essential to being active and communicating effectively. Hearing problems can result in professional and social blunders that cause embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Gradual withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are left unaddressed. People begin to avoid physical activity and seclude themselves from friends and family. This seclusion, after a while, can result in depression and loneliness.

Hearing Isn’t Simply About Your Ears

Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its relationship with depression. Hearing affects your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This highlights the crucial role of the hearing care professional within the scope of general healthcare. Individuals with hearing loss frequently deal with fatigue, confusion, and frustration.

The good news: The problem can be substantially improved by having a hearing test and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. Studies show that treating hearing loss early greatly decreases their risk. Routine hearing exams need to be encouraged by physicians. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can uncover, after all. And with people who might be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to look for indications of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.

Don’t suffer in silence. If you think 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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