Hearing loss has multifaceted effects that can impact daily life in various ways. Hearing is integral to communication which is foundational for relationships, social engagement, work life etc. So when hearing is impaired and communication becomes challenging, the cumulative toll of this is far reaching including impacting one’s mood and overall wellness.
Link Between Hearing Loss & Depression
Research shows that there is a link between hearing loss and depression. Extensive studies show that hearing loss increases the risk of experiencing depressive symptoms. This includes a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery. Researchers studied the link between hearing loss and depression by assessing data provided by a national health survey. This data included information about hearing loss and depressive symptoms for 18,318 people. Researchers found that the prevalence of moderate to severe depression was:
- 4.9% for individuals reporting excellent hearing
- 11.4% for people who reported a little to greater hearing loss
This shows that people with hearing loss were more than twice as likely to experience depressive symptoms compared to those without hearing loss.
In another study, researchers looked at the social impact of hearing loss among older adults. They did this by assessing the hearing capacities and mental health characteristics among 1,511 participants. Researchers found that the risk of developing depression increased by 5% with every incremental decrease in hearing ability among adults 70 and under. These studies highlight a significant correlation between hearing loss and depression.
Impact of Hearing Loss on Mood
Hearing loss produces symptoms that take a toll on communication. Symptoms include tinnitus (a buzzing or ringing noise in the ears) and sounds being slurred or muffled. This often leads to people with hearing loss asking others to repeat themselves, needing to move to a quieter space to hear more clearly, and struggling to keep up with conversations. The difficulties in engaging in communication due to hearing loss symptoms can cause people to experience miscommunication, unpleasant interactions, and fatigue from over exerting themselves in trying to hear. Strained communication can quickly lead to avoiding conversations altogether – skipping out on social events, activities, spending time with others etc.
Social withdrawal is a major outcome of untreated hearing loss. This increases isolation, loneliness, stress, and depression which significantly impacts mental health and wellness. Social withdrawal also affects relationships and social connections, exacerbating depressive symptoms. This affects sense of self, happiness, and daily well being which is why intervening and seeking hearing loss treatment is so important.
Treatment Improves Overall Wellness
Treating hearing loss offers numerous benefits that profoundly enhance quality of life in a myriad of ways. Treatment not only improves hearing, but it also strengthens communication as well as relationships and social life. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids – electronic devices that are prescribed by a hearing healthcare specialist. Hearing aids absorb, amplify, adn process sound which provides the ears and brain with tremendous support. This eases symptoms and increases one’s capacity to hear.
Among the major benefits that hearing aids provide is alleviating depressive symptoms and boosting wellness. Studies show that hearing aids can enhance mental health by providing support with hearing and communication. This includes a 2016 study that evaluated the impact of hearing aids and cochlear implants on depressive symptoms. Researchers assessed 113 people, ages 50 and older, who wore hearing aids or cochlear implants. Participants were evaluated at the 6 month and one year mark of wearing hearing aids. Researchers found depressive symptoms improved by:
- 28% after 6 months of wearing hearing aids
- depressive symptoms decreased by another 16% by one year.
These findings show that hearing aids provide relief and support which alleviates depressive symptoms, improving overall mental health and wellness.
Prioritize Your Hearing Health Today
Treating hearing loss can change the quality of your life. Treatment transforms hearing and overall health, helping people live fuller and more satisfying lives. The first step is to have your hearing evaluated by a hearing healthcare specialist. This involves a painless process that measures your hearing capacities and established your hearing needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation. We look forward to helping you prioritize your hearing health and wellness.