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There is a solid connection between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.

Beyond this connection, both conditions have something else in common – patients and health professionals frequently fail to recognize and treat them. For millions of individuals who are searching for solutions to mental health issues, acknowledging this relationship could lead to potential improvements.

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 people who are diagnosed with hearing loss, studies show that over 11 percent of them also have clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is significant. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and considered depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. They found depression was most common in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noted “a significant association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.

Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss

Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a very common chronic issue in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the risk of depression. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. This study also revealed that the chance of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. Even more startling, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been demonstrated to raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. While the studies cannot prove that one is caused by the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.

Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating successfully. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the outcome of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. If left unaddressed, 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, over time, can lead to depression and loneliness.

Hearing is About More Than Just Ears

Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t simply about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and overall health are all impacted by your hearing. This demonstrates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Confusion, aggravation, and exhaustion are frequently a problem for individuals who have hearing loss.

The good news: Finding professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing issue helps counter this problem. Studies show that treating hearing loss early significantly reduces their risk. It is essential that physicians recommend regular hearing exams. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can uncover, after all. Care providers should also watch for symptoms of depression in people who might be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.

Never ignore your symptoms. Give us a call to make an appointment if you suspect 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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