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Man with untreated hearing loss depressed and looking out the window.

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

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

We know that hearing loss is widespread, but only a handful of studies have dealt with its effect on mental health.

Research has found that over 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had symptoms of clinical depression. This is noteworthy because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was analyzed by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a basic questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a scientist at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a considerable connection between profound depression and hearing loss”.

Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression

Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that people with age-related hearing loss (an extremely common chronic issue in senior citizens) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the chance of having depressive symptoms. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. This study also reported that the chance of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. What’s more, many over the age of 70 who have mild hearing loss (which has also been known to increase 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 established.

In order to communicate successfully and stay active, hearing is essential. Hearing problems can cause professional and social blunders that cause anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-esteem. If left unaddressed, these feelings can result in a steady withdrawal. People begin 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 link to 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 general healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. People with hearing loss often deal with fatigue, confusion, and frustration.

The good news: The issue can be significantly improved by having a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. These risks are substantially decreased, according to research, with early treatment. Regular hearing exams need to be encouraged by physicians. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing test can diagnose. And with individuals who might be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to watch for symptoms of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, fatigue, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.

Never neglect your symptoms. If you suspect you have hearing loss, call us to schedule a hearing assessment.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.