Losing your hearing can be a staggeringly sad and lonely process.
Worse still, it can happen so slowly and subtly that the sufferer might not even notice it’s happening.
Now we have one more compelling reason to take the signs seriously – and take action as soon as possible.
Many researchers over the years have explored the relationship between depression and hearing loss. But one recent study by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has made this correlation clearer than ever.
“We found a significant association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression,” said Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, author of the study.
“The cause-and-effect relationship is unknown.”
The study, which looked at more than 18,000 patients, showed that the higher the rate of hearing loss in a population, the greater the chances of depression, with women seemingly most vulnerable to this risk.
“It is not surprising to me that they would be more likely to be depressed,” said James Firman, CEO 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.”
Feelings of isolation and fatigue are well-documented in those who have not sought treatment for their hearing loss. This social isolation and lack of stimulation is, in turn, strongly suggested to speed up physical atrophy of the brain.
Reassuringly, a hearing device can almost completely counter this risk, potentially preventing that downward spiral entirely.
Both depression and hearing loss can remain hidden and undiagnosed for years, often noticed by friends and family before the sufferer themselves.
For those concerned about a loved one, or suspect they themselves might be experiencing these symptoms, it is important to remember that depression runs deeper than beyond “big” feelings such as sadness or despair. It can creep up in the form of fatigue, difficulty concentrating and a general loss of interest in the things you love.
No matter what the relationship between hearing loss and mental health, this serves as a timely reminder: early intervention on both fronts could be truly life-changing.
In the case of hearing, it can be surprisingly easy to set you or a loved one back on the right track. A simple checkup – booked here and now – could be all it takes to prevent the worst before it begins.
This post is sponsored by Connect Hearing. It was written as we feel it delivers valuable insights into a health topic important to the Starts at 60 community. For more information, please visit the Connect Hearing website or call 1300 362 231.