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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 – health professionals and patients often fail to recognize and address them. For millions of people who are looking for solutions to mental health issues, identifying this relationship could bring potential improvements.

The effect of hearing loss on mental health has only been dealt with by a few studies even though hearing loss is very widespread.

Studies have found that over 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had signs of clinical depression. This is noteworthy because only 5 percent of the general population report being depressed. Depression was evaluated by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a standard questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was used. People 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 significant link between severe depression and hearing loss”.

Your Chance of Depression Doubles With Untreated Hearing Loss

Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, revealed that individuals with age-related hearing loss (an extremely common chronic condition in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the worse the hearing loss – the higher the risk of depression. Participants were assessed for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. Once more, researchers observed that people with even slight hearing loss were almost twice as likely to have depression. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been shown to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. While the studies cannot prove that one is caused by the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.

In order to communicate successfully and continue to be active, hearing is essential. Embarrassment, anxiety, and potential loss of self-esteem 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. Individuals withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. After a while, this can result in solitude, 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 overall health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This shows that within your overall healthcare, your hearing professional plays an important part. Confusion, frustration, and fatigue are frequently a problem for people who have hearing loss.

The good news: The issue can be significantly enhanced by getting a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early significantly reduces their risk. Routine hearing exams need to be recommended by physicians. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing exam can detect. Care providers should also look for signs of depression in patients who might be dealing with either or both. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, and overall loss of interest and unhappiness are all symptoms.

Never neglect your symptoms. Call us to make an appointment if you think you may 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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