- Hearing Aids Are Found to Improve Depressive Symptom - November 20, 2021
- October is Protect Your Hearing Month - October 16, 2021
- Head Injuries & Hearing Loss - September 21, 2021
With 48 million people affected by hearing loss, it’s a big deal in the US. One in eight people in the United States (13 percent,) 12 years or older have hearing loss in both ears and that number is projected to rise in the next thirty years. It’s important to understand your risk for hearing loss now because when it goes unaddressed the side effects can be difficult to reverse. Hearing loss is a communication issue, keeping you connected to your loved ones and your professional relationships. At home, communication issues can lead to distance between partners and even separation. At work, untreated hearing loss can cause employers to misinterpret you as forgetful, confused, and disconnected from your job. This has led millions of people into the US into chronic depression, loneliness, and anxiety. The good news is that hearing aids can disrupt this trend.
Addressing Depression as a Serious Issue
Depression is often invisible, therefore it goes ignored by medical professionals, friends, and family. However, annually, over 14 million Americans are affected by major depressive disorder. Depression can cause headaches, chronic body aches, and pain that may be resistant to standard medication. In some instances, chronic depression may progress into unexpected health effects such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.
However, even at the beginning stages depression may contribute to a lack of activity, and a likelihood to try new experiences. For older people, this can be an early death sentence and can certainly affect their quality of life. Adding the alienation which unaddressed hearing loss can cause can either be the source of depression or a factor that makes symptoms even worse. There is a chance you are suffering depression if you experience any of the following:
- Loss of appetite / overeating
- lack of stamina.
- Abrupt mood changes
- Experiencing a sense of hopelessness which inhibits accomplishing everyday tasks
- A sense of worthlessness and helplessness
The Hearing Loss and Depression Connection
Often depression creeps up over the years, so you don’t even realize it is an issue. Even so, subtle communication issues can develop into isolation and depression. If you are feeling isolated, and have lost enjoyment for socialization, a hearing issue could be the underlying cause. The first thing to do is check your hearing. You may find that all along, you’ve been struggling with hearing and this is what has kept you from connecting to the people in your life in recent years.
The Amplification of Hearing Aids
While most forms of hearing loss are permanent, the good news is that hearing aids can help treat symptoms. These amazing electronic devices amplify the specific sounds you struggle with. Everyone’s hearing loss is a little different. One person may struggle with high pitches and tones while another struggles to hear certain consonants and frequencies. The important thing is that a hearing exam can diagnose your particular manner of hearing loss and begin to compensate for the loss. It amplifies just the sounds you need to hear into your ear canal and lets your existing hearing do the rest.
Connecting Depression and Hearing Loss
To explore the connection between hearing loss and depression, researchers at Johns Hopkins University explored the impact of mental health when hearing loss was treated using hearing aids. The researchers analyzed data from more than 100 seniors who had both hearing loss and depression, who were treating their loss with hearing aids or a cochlear implant. The findings showed that depressive symptoms were significantly reduced after 6 months of using hearing aids. The researchers believe that improved social interactions were able to enhance the quality of life to lift depressive symptoms. Study participants aside from less depression, self-reported improved mental health, and greater self-confidence. Most promising is that those with the most severe depressive symptoms reported that hearing aids helped lift symptoms. This is hopeful as it indicates that even severe depression can be lifted with the use of hearing aids.
The Importance of Communication
It is easy to overlook how important hearing is for your mental health and quality of life. However, studies show that often the key to happiness is often just being able to hear and be heard. If you’ve been putting it off, make today the day that you address a hearing loss and start the journey towards improving your mental health now.