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

There is a strong connection between mental health and hearing loss according to new studies.

And there’s something else that both of these disorders have in common – patients and health professionals frequently fail to acknowledge and treat them. For millions of people who are seeking solutions to mental health problems, identifying this relationship could lead to potential improvements.

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

Research has revealed that more than 11 percent of people with measurable hearing loss also had signs of clinical depression. Depression was only reported by 5 percent of the general population so this finding is noteworthy. Depression was evaluated by the frequency and severity of the symptoms and a basic questionnaire based on self-reporting of hearing loss was utilized. People who were between 18 and 69 had the highest instance of depression. The author of the study and a researcher at NIDCD, Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, noticed “a significant connection between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression”.

Your Risk of Depression Doubles With Neglected Hearing Loss

Another study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that individuals with age-related hearing loss (a really common chronic issue in the elderly) experienced more signs of depression and the more severe the hearing loss – the higher the risk of having depressive symptoms. Participants were evaluated for depression after taking an audiometric hearing test. This study also revealed that the risk of depression nearly doubles in people with even slight hearing loss. Even more alarming, mild hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated by many people over 70 which has also been demonstrated to increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. While the studies cannot prove that one is caused by the other, it is evident that it is a contributor.

Hearing is essential to being active and communicating effectively. Hearing problems can lead to professional and social blunders that cause anxiety and embarrassment, and potentially loss of self-esteem. Progressive withdrawal can be the result if these feelings are not addressed. Individuals withdraw from friends and family as well as from physical activity. This seclusion, over time, can result in depression and loneliness.

Hearing Isn’t Simply About Your Ears

Hearing loss and its association with depression underscores that hearing loss isn’t only about the ears. Your brain, your quality of life, healthy aging, and general health are all impacted by your hearing. This shows that within your general healthcare, your hearing professional is an important part. Confusion, aggravation, and exhaustion are frequently a problem for individuals who suffer from hearing loss.

The good news: The issue can be substantially enhanced by having a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies show that treating hearing loss early greatly decreases their risk. It is essential that physicians recommend regular hearing exams. After all, hearing loss is not the only thing a hearing exam can diagnose. And with people who may be dealing with hearing loss, care providers need to look for symptoms of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.

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

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