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New research has revealed a strong connection between hearing loss and mental health.

And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – health professionals and patients often fail to acknowledge and treat them. Recognizing there is a relationship could potentially improve mental health for millions of people and provide hope as they seek solutions.

The effect of hearing loss on mental health has only been addressed by a few studies even though hearing loss is very prevalent.

Research has found that over 11 percent of individuals with measurable hearing loss also had signs of clinical depression. This is noteworthy 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 severity and frequency of symptoms. They found depression was most prevalent in people between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, found “a significant connection between profound depression and hearing loss”.

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 senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the risk of depression. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing exam. This research also revealed that the chance of depression almost doubles in people with even slight hearing loss. Even more startling, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been shown to raise the danger of cognitive decline and dementia. While the research doesn’t prove that one is caused by the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.

In order to communicate efficiently and remain active, hearing is essential. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-confidence 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 isolate themselves from family and friends. This isolation, after a while, can result in depression and loneliness.

Hearing is About More Than Just Ears

Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all impacted by your hearing. This shows that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, aggravation, and fatigue are frequently an issue for people who deal with hearing loss.

The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this issue. These risks are substantially decreased, according to research, with early treatment. Regular hearing tests need to be encouraged by physicians. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can reveal, after all. Care providers should also look for signs of depression in patients who might be dealing with either or both. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and general loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.

Don’t suffer in silence. If you think you have hearing loss, give us a call 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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