Link between untreated hearing loss and depression

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How hearing loss can impact one’s mental health

Everyone knows that hearing technology and assistive listening devices help and reduce the strain of trying to understand all the mumbling that is going on around you. While the ability to hear your loved one or enjoy your favorite tv show is the short-term goal, it turns out there is more at stake than just your hearing health. Research shows that untreated hearing loss has a profound effect on mental state, affecting everything from temperament to perceived life satisfaction to cognition.

The increasing population of those with hearing loss is becoming a significant issue. Some experience mental and emotional issues such as anger, depression, anxiety, loneliness, frustration and decreased cognitive functioning. These issues are common among those with untreated hearing loss, and because most people wait an average of 7-10 years to seek treatment, you have millions of people with an unnecessary poor quality of life.

People with hearing loss usually find communication difficult, and this can lead to stress, fatigue, and social isolation, and social isolation leads to depression especially in older adults. Research today shows that the link between hearing loss and depression is more of a problem that previously thought.

Hearing loss is the third most occurring condition in older adults. Presbycusis, the most common form of hearing loss, is associated with aging, and occurs gradually. It is characterized by loss of the highest frequency consonant sounds and trouble understanding speech in the presence of background noise. Between 25-40 percent of those over the age of 50 have hearing loss and many have never had a baseline comprehensive hearing exam, by an Audiologist, to determine what they can and cannot hear.

It is important that physicians look for symptoms of depression and screen patients accordingly, especially if hearing loss is suspected. A simple comprehensive hearing exam could change the course dramatically. Referring patients with hearing loss and depression for treatment, such as hearing technology, may help patients regain an emotional well being and become socially engaged once again, therefore experiencing an improvement in their quality of life.

Bluegrass Hearing Clinic Audiologist, Dr. Lucinda Batta states: "Current research has shown the significant link between untreated hearing loss and major depressive disorder. Thankfully, the research doesn't end there. Studies have further shown decreased odds of depressive disorder when the hearing loss is treated. Good hearing health is linked to good overall health."