Our sense of hearing is connected to many facets of daily life: communication, social engagement, work-life, etc. When hearing is impaired, it reduces a person’s capacity to hear and process sound. This produces numerous symptoms that can take a toll on health, wellness, and quality of life. This includes impacting your mood by contributing to the development of depressive symptoms.
Link Between Hearing Loss & Depression
Research shows that there is a correlation between hearing loss and depression. This includes a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery in 2015. Researchers examined the relationship between hearing loss and depression by analyzing data collected on a national health survey. This included data on hearing loss and depressive symptoms for 18,318 people. Researchers found that the prevalence of moderate to severe depression was:
- 4.9% of individuals reported excellent hearing
- 11.4% of people who reported a little to greater hearing loss
These findings reveal that people with hearing loss were more than twice as likely to also experience depressive symptoms compared to people without hearing loss.
In another study, researchers assessed the psychosocial impact of hearing loss in older adults. This study included 1,511 participants who had their hearing and mental health assessed. Researchers found that the likelihood of developing depression increased by 5% with every incremental decrease in hearing ability for adults under age 70. These studies are among the ample research that shows the connection between hearing loss and depression but how exactly does hearing loss contribute to depression?
Impact of Hearing Loss on Mental Health
Untreated hearing loss can impact mental health in a variety of ways. Hearing loss symptoms – tinnitus (ringing sound in the ears), distorted or muffled sound, speech is unclear, etc. – create barriers to effective communication. Symptoms make it challenging to hear, communicate, and navigate conversations. This can leave people in social settings feeling confused or left out, not hearing what is going on, missing the jokes or stories being shared, etc. To avoid this, it is common for people to then withdraw from social events, activities, and spending time with others.
Social withdrawal is a major effect of untreated hearing loss which can deteriorate social life. This often means spending less time with loved ones, not participating in favorite activities, and skipping social settings. Social withdrawal contributes to depressive symptoms like loneliness, unhappiness, and isolation. These depressive symptoms impact both mental health as well as the quality of life.
Hearing Aids Alleviate Depressive Symptoms
Fortunately, treating hearing loss offers countless life-changing benefits including alleviating depressive symptoms. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids which are medical devices that are equipped with the technology to absorb, amplify, and process sound. Numerous studies highlight the benefits of hearing aids which include decreasing depressive symptoms.
This includes a 2016 study that examined how wearing hearing aids and cochlear implants impacted depressive symptoms. The study included 113 participants, ages 50 and older, who wore hearing aids or cochlear implants. Participants were evaluated after 6 months and again after 1 year of wearing their hearing aids. Researchers found depressive symptoms improved by:
- 28% after 6 months of wearing hearing aids
- depressive symptoms continued to decrease and by one year, decreased by another 16%.
Researchers concluded that hearing aids can profoundly improve mental health by alleviating depressive symptoms. Hearing aids increase the capacity for hearing and communication, allowing people to engage with others with greater ease. This enriches quality time, interactions, and social life. These benefits improve relationships and boost confidence as well as happiness, supporting people to live more fully.
Prioritize Your Hearing Health
You can prioritize your hearing health with one simple step: call us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation. We offer comprehensive services and individualized care that is invested in transforming your hearing health. Our specialists have extensive experience and work closely with you to identify and treat your hearing needs. Treating hearing loss not only enhances hearing but also strengthens communication, relationships, and helps people stay socially connected. These benefits support you in living a more engaging and satisfying life. Contact us today to learn more.