Approximately 48 million Americans in the U.S. have hearing loss, and only one in five actually seeks treatment. This means 38.4 million people miss out on important communication with loved ones every day. When you can’t communicate well, you’re more likely to socially withdraw, leading to feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression.
What the Studies Show
Most recently, a study from 2019 by the University of New England, University Bordeaux and University of Adelaide found that about one in five older adults with hearing impairment has symptoms of clinical depression.
Another study by the Department of ENT/Audiology at the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam found that the likelihood for developing depression increases by five percent with every drop in incremental hearing ability in adults under 70 years old. They found that middle-aged adults between 40 and 50 years old are particularly at risk.
According to researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 11.4 percent of adults with self-reported hearing loss symptoms also reported symptoms of moderate to severe depression. Another 19.1 percent reported mild depressive symptoms.
Hearing Loss Is Taxing on Mental Health
According to Paul Milner, Ph.D., CCC-A, owner of Hearing Care Center, “[People with hearing loss] lose connections and don’t understand what people are talking about… Even without the most serious hearing loss, people might think others are talking about them because they can’t follow the conversation.” This can certainly affect mood, but there are other risks as well.
“Those who are hearing impaired may also be sending weaker auditory signals to our brains, which means our brain has to work harder to process sounds—resulting in a loss in function in other processes such as memory,” explained Brian Wind, PhD, CBSM, chief clinical officer at JourneyPure. “Our neural pathways may reorganize, causing our brain to change the way they function, including the areas that regulate depressive symptoms.”
In other words, the brain may actually be rewiring itself when hearing loss is untreated.
Signs for depression include changes in sleep, anger, irritability and trouble concentrating. If you or your loved one exhibits any of these symptoms, be sure to seek help promptly.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the Hearing Center of Lake Charles today.