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

Beyond this link, both disorders have something else in common – they frequently go unacknowledged and untreated by health professionals and patients. Realizing there is a connection could potentially improve mental health for millions of people and offer hope as they look for solutions.

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

Research has found that more than 11 percent of individuals 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 evaluated by the severity and frequency of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. Individuals who were between 18 and 69 had the highest rate of depression. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a considerable connection between severe depression and hearing loss”.

Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression

Age related hearing loss is extremely common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression goes up the worse the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing exam. This research also revealed that the chance of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even minor hearing loss. In addition, many older than 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the chance of cognitive decline and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. Obviously, there’s a link between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.

Hearing is essential to being active and communicating successfully. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-confidence can be the result of the social and professional blunders that come with hearing loss. Gradual withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are left unaddressed. People begin to steer clear of physical activity and seclude themselves from friends and family. This seclusion, 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 only about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all affected by your hearing. This indicates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are frequently an issue for individuals who have hearing loss.

The good news: The problem can be significantly enhanced by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies show that treating hearing loss early greatly reduces their risk. Routine hearing tests need to be recommended by doctors. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing exam can detect. And with individuals who may be coping with hearing loss, caregivers need to look for symptoms of depression. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and overall loss of interest and sadness are all symptoms.

Never ignore your symptoms. Call us to schedule an appointment if you believe you might 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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