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

There is a solid correlation between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.

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

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

Out of all people who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows that over 11 percent of them also have clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is significant. Depression was analyzed by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. They discovered depression was most common in people between the ages of 18 and 69. Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NICDC and the author of this study, discovered “a substantial connection between profound depression and hearing loss”.

Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression

Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that individuals 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 risk of depression. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing examination. This study also revealed that the chance of depression nearly doubles in people with even slight hearing loss. What’s more, many over the age of 70 who have slight hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the chance of cognitive decline and dementia) are not diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one causes the other, it is evident that it is a contributor.

In order to communicate effectively and stay active, hearing is crucial. Anxiety, embarrassment, and potential loss of self-esteem can be the outcome of the professional and social blunders that come with hearing loss. If not addressed, these feelings can lead to a gradual withdrawal. People withdraw from family and friends and also from physical activity. Over time, this can result in isolation, loneliness – and depression.

Hearing is About More Than Just Ears

Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t simply about the ears. Hearing affects your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This highlights the vital role of the hearing care professional within the scope of overall healthcare. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are frequently a problem for individuals who suffer from 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 significantly reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. It is vital that physicians advise routine hearing tests. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can uncover, after all. And with individuals who might be dealing with hearing loss, caregivers need to look for symptoms of depression. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, impatience, and overall loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.

Don’t suffer in silence. If you believe you have hearing loss, give us a call to schedule a hearing exam.

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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.