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

And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – they often go overlooked and untreated by patients and health professionals. Knowing there is a relationship could potentially improve mental health for millions of people and offer hope as they seek solutions.

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, studies show 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 evaluated by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. They discovered depression was most common in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a significant link between profound depression and hearing loss”.

Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss

Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that people with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic issue in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the risk of having depressive symptoms. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing exam. Once more, researchers observed that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were nearly two times as likely to have depression. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been shown to increase the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. While the studies cannot prove that one is caused by the other, it is clear that it is a contributor.

Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating efficiently. Hearing issues can result in professional and social blunders that trigger embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Progressive withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. People withdraw from friends and family and also 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 relationship 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 suffer from hearing loss.

The good news: The issue can be significantly improved by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early greatly decreases their risk. Routine hearing exams need to be recommended by physicians. Hearing impairment isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can reveal, after all. And with people who might be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to watch for indications of depression. Exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and general loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.

Don’t suffer alone. 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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