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

There is a strong correlation between mental health and hearing loss according to new research.

Besides this relationship, both conditions have something else in common – they frequently go overlooked and untreated by health professionals and patients. Realizing there is a connection could potentially enhance mental health for millions of individuals 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.

Studies have revealed that over 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. Basic questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and considered depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. They discovered depression was most widespread in individuals between the ages of 18 and 69. The author of the study and a scientist at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, saw “a significant connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.

Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Chances of Depression

Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic condition in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the risk of depression. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. Once again, researchers observed that people with even a little bit of hearing loss were nearly twice as likely to have depression. In addition, many older than 70 who have slight hearing loss (which has also been known to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. While the studies cannot prove that one causes the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.

In order to communicate efficiently and remain active, hearing is essential. Hearing problems can cause professional and social blunders that trigger embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-esteem. Gradual withdrawal can be the outcome if these feelings are left unaddressed. People begin to avoid physical activity and isolate themselves from family and friends. After a while, this can result in isolation, loneliness – and depression.

Hearing Isn’t Only About Your Ears

Hearing loss and its link to depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears. Hearing impacts your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This demonstrates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Individuals with hearing loss frequently deal with fatigue, confusion, and aggravation.

The good news: The problem can be substantially enhanced by getting a hearing exam and treatment as soon as you recognize hearing loss symptoms. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early substantially reduces their risk. It is essential that physicians recommend regular hearing exams. After all, hearing loss isn’t the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. Caregivers should also look for signs of depression in people 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. Call us to make an appointment if you believe you may have hearing loss.

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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.