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

And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and untreated by patients and health professionals. For millions of people who are looking for solutions to mental health issues, acknowledging this relationship could bring potential improvements.

The effect 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 individuals who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows that over 11 percent of them also deal with clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is noteworthy. Depression was assessed by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “a substantial association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.

Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss

Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that individuals with age-related hearing loss (an extremely 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 found that people with even slight hearing loss were almost two times as likely to experience depression. What’s more, many older than 70 who have mild hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the chance of cognitive decline and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one is caused by the other, it is evident that it is a contributor.

In order to communicate effectively and continue to be active, hearing is crucial. Hearing problems can result in professional and social blunders that trigger embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Gradual withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are left unaddressed. Individuals withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. After a while, this can lead to solitude, 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 overall healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Individuals with hearing loss frequently deal with fatigue, confusion, and aggravation.

The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing issue helps counter this issue. Studies show that treating hearing loss early significantly diminishes their risk. It is essential that physicians endorse regular hearing exams. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can uncover, after all. Caregivers should also watch for signs of depression in people who may be dealing with either or both. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and overall loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.

Never ignore your symptoms. Give us a call to schedule 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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