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

There is a solid 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 recognize and address them. For millions of people who are seeking solutions to mental health issues, recognizing this connection 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 common.

Out of all people 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. Standard questionnaires were based on self-reporting of hearing loss and evaluated depression based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. They found 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 substantial link between severe depression and hearing loss”.

Untreated Hearing Loss Doubles Your Risk of Depression

Age related hearing loss is extremely common in older individuals and, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the chance of depression goes up the more severe the hearing loss is. After audiometric hearing testing, participants were evaluated for depression. Once again, researchers found that individuals with even slight hearing loss were nearly twice as likely to experience depression. What’s more, many over the age of 70 who suffer from mild hearing loss (which has also been known to raise the chance of cognitive impairment and dementia) aren’t diagnosed or treated. While the studies cannot prove that one is caused by the other, it is obvious that it is a contributor.

Hearing is crucial to being active and communicating successfully. Hearing problems can cause professional and social blunders that trigger embarrassment, anxiety, and potentially loss of self-confidence. If not addressed, these feelings can result in a steady withdrawal. People begin to steer clear of physical activity and isolate themselves from family and friends. After a while, this can lead to solitude, loneliness – and depression.

Hearing is About More Than Just Ears

Hearing loss is about more than the ears as is underscored by its association with depression. Hearing affects your general health, the brain, quality of life, and healthy aging. This shows 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 issue can be significantly enhanced by having a hearing test and treatment as soon as you notice hearing loss symptoms. Studies suggest that treating hearing loss early substantially reduces their risk. It is vital that physicians endorse routine hearing exams. Hearing loss isn’t the only thing that a hearing test can uncover, after all. And with people who might be coping with hearing loss, care providers need to look for signs of depression. Common symptoms include difficulty focusing, fatigue, general loss of interest, unhappiness, and loss of appetite.

Don’t suffer alone. Give us a call to schedule an appointment if you think you might 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.
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