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

New studies have revealed a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health.

And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – they often go unacknowledged and untreated by patients and health professionals. Realizing there is a connection could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and give hope as they look for solutions.

We understand that hearing loss is common, but only a few studies have addressed its effect on mental health.

Out of all people who are diagnosed with hearing loss, research shows that over 11 percent of them also deal with clinical depression. This is significant 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. 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, found “a considerable connection between profound depression and hearing loss”.

Neglected Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression

Age related hearing loss is extremely common in older people and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the risk of depression goes up the worse the hearing loss is. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing exam. This study also reported that the chance of depression almost doubles in people with even minor hearing loss. What’s more, many older than 70 who have mild hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the danger of cognitive decline and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. While the research doesn’t prove that one is caused by the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.

Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating effectively. Hearing issues can result in professional and social blunders that cause embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-confidence. If not addressed, these feelings can result in a steady withdrawal. Individuals withdraw from friends and family and also from physical activity. This seclusion, over time, can lead to depression and loneliness.

Hearing Isn’t Just About Your Ears

Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its connection with depression. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all impacted by your hearing. This demonstrates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. People with hearing loss often deal with exhaustion, confusion, and frustration.

The good news: Seeking professional care and testing at the soonest sign of a hearing issue helps counter this problem. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early greatly reduces their risk. It is essential that physicians advise routine hearing tests. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing test can diagnose. Caregivers should also look for signs of depression in people who may be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, overall loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.

Don’t suffer alone. Call us to make an appointment if you suspect you may have hearing loss.

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NEW WEBINAR: Depression, Hearing Loss, and Treatment with Hearing Aids

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.