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

And there’s something else that both of these conditions have in common – they often go overlooked and neglected by health professionals and patients. Knowing there is a relationship could potentially enhance mental health for millions of people and provide hope as they seek solutions.

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

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

Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss

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 worse the hearing loss – the higher the chance of having depressive symptoms. After audiometric hearing testing, participants took an evaluation for depression. This research also reported that the chance of depression nearly doubles in individuals with even slight hearing loss. Even more startling, mild hearing loss frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated by many individuals over 70 which has also been shown to raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Obviously, there’s a connection between the two even though a strong cause and effect relationship hasn’t yet been demonstrated.

In order to communicate effectively and remain active, hearing is crucial. Hearing problems can result in professional and social blunders that trigger anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-confidence. Progressive withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. Individuals withdraw from family and friends and also from physical activity. This isolation, after a while, can lead to depression and loneliness.

Hearing is About More Than Just 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 affected by your hearing. This indicates that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are often an issue for individuals who have hearing loss.

The good news: Finding professional care and testing at the earliest sign of a hearing problem helps counter this problem. These risks are considerably reduced, according to studies, with early treatment. Routine hearing tests need to be recommended by doctors. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing exam can uncover, after all. Care providers should also look for symptoms of depression in patients who might be dealing with either or both. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, general loss of interest, sadness, and loss of appetite.

Don’t suffer in silence. Give us a call to make an appointment if you think 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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