Along with difficulty communicating, people with hearing loss are at risk for a number of associated medical problems if they do not take steps to seek treatment. The correlation between hearing loss and a number of physical, social and psychological conditions is well-established; one of the most common is depression.
The Correlation Between Hearing Loss and Depression
Approximately 48 million Americans experience hearing loss. New patients experience a variety of emotions including stress, anxiety, fatigue and social isolation, all of which are factors that can lead to depression. A study by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) showed that 11.4 percent of individuals with hearing loss suffered from depression, a significantly higher percentage than those with good (7.1 percent) or excellent (4.9 percent) hearing. Those aged 18 to 69 were determined to most likely experience depression.
People with hearing loss are also more likely to withdraw from social activities. This increases their risk as social isolation worsens depression.
The key is recognizing the symptoms of depression early. Depression can manifest itself with feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and while these are the most common outward signs, they aren’t the only ones. Less obvious symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Concentration difficulties
- Loss of interest in activities and hobbies that usually bring joy
It often takes a close friend or family member to notice these types of behavioral changes.
Hearing Aids can Help Treat Depression
The earlier you receive treatment for hearing loss, the less likely you are to experience depression. The following signs, established by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, are useful in determining the possibility of hearing loss:
- Difficulty understanding speech, especially in the presence of background noise
- The individual isolates themselves from social gatherings and public situations
- They watch television or listen to music at volume levels others find uncomfortable
- They ask people to repeat themselves
Any of these signs should prompt you to schedule a hearing evaluation with Dr. Jill Davis as soon as possible.
If hearing loss is causing depression, treatment might be as simple as turning on your hearing aids. Researchers at the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics found that every patient they studied who wore hearing aids showed a significant decline in negative psychosocial and cognitive conditions within 90 days. To reduce your risk of depression, be sure to wear your hearing aids regularly. Depression is a widespread ailment with serious consequences; avoiding it will only lead to worse health long-term.