It’s no secret that struggling with hearing loss makes it difficult to communicate, hold down a job, and maintain strong relationships with the people you love the most. Hearing loss has been linked to a lot of other negative health outcomes, like reduced quality of life, and more rapid cognitive decline, leading to dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. But did you know that hearing loss has also been linked to depression, and treating hearing loss with hearing aids could drastically improve depressive symptoms?
Symptoms of Depression
Major depressive disorder affects more than 14 million Americans every year. You might think seniors are more at likely to deal with depression, but the average age of onset is only 32. Some of the signs of depression to watch for in yourself and in others is fatigue, loss of appetite or overeating, lack of energy, and sudden changes in mood. If you’ve been feeling withdrawn, anxious, or discouraged, you might be experiencing depression. Another sign is a feeling of hopelessness that affects your ability to perform the daily tasks of life, or feeling worthless and helpless.
Linking Hearing Loss and Depression
For anyone wondering what brought on their depression, it might be time to check your hearing. Hearing loss is a risk factor for depression, because living with hearing loss affects your ability to communicate effectively or receive social support from friends and loved ones, and you risk feeling isolated and alone.
Those living with untreated hearing loss, even mild hearing loss, are much more likely to struggle with interpersonal problems, stress, and mental health concerns. Struggling to hear can be an extremely isolating and frustrating experience, making it difficult to communicate with friends and loved ones, or maintain close relationships with the people who matter the most.
Your social life also takes a hit, and you might find yourself staying home alone rather than meeting friends for dinner downtown and being embarrassed that you can’t hear what they’re saying, or reply appropriately. “It is not surprising to me that they would be more likely to be depressed,” says James Firman, president of the National Council on Aging. “People with hearing loss, especially those who don’t use hearing aids, find it more difficult to communicate with other people, whether in family situations, social gatherings or at work.”
Hearing loss is closely linked to poor physical and mental health, contributing to emotional distress, anxiety, irritability, social isolation and depression. Living with untreated hearing loss affects your relationships, social life, and work life, and many of those who face hearing loss struggle with feelings of loneliness or hopelessness, and this makes them more at risk of social isolation and depression.
Treating Hearing Loss
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University looked closely at the links between hearing loss and depression to see how treating hearing loss would affect mental health. They looked at data from over 100 seniors who struggled with both hearing loss and depression. They treated their hearing loss with either hearing aids or a cochlear implant, and after 6 months of using hearing devices, they found that depressive symptoms were greatly deduced. Participants reported greater communication and connection with the people around them, along with more social interactions and improved quality of life. They also reported regaining their emotional stability, having increased self-confidence, and experiencing far fewer depressive symptoms. These results continued for all the participants who kept wearing their hearing technology. The participants with the highest depressive symptoms improved the most once they started wearing hearing aids, meaning that even those with severe depression will benefit from treating their hearing loss.
If you’ve been struggling to hear, or are worried that your hearing loss is affecting your mental health, visit us at Worth Hearing for a hearing assessment. We’ll help you get to the root of the issue, and find out if your hearing loss is contributing to your depression. One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to treat your hearing loss, and at Worth Hearing our team of hearing specialists will help you find the perfect device that will improve your communication with loved ones, give you back your confidence in social situations, and improve your quality of life.