The Sad Truth About Hearing Loss & Depression

About one out of every five people in American Fork has hearing loss. Along with difficulty communicating, these people are at risk for a number of associated medical problems if they do not take steps to treat their impairment. The correlation between hearing loss and a number of physical, social and psychological conditions is well-established; one of the most common in Utah is depression.

The Correlation Between Hearing Loss and Depression

Depressed woman

Hearing loss is a life-changing diagnosis for approximately 48 million Americans. New patients experience a variety of emotions including stress, anxiety, fatigue and social isolation, all of which are factors that can lead to depression. A study by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) showed that 11.4 percent of individuals with hearing loss suffered from depression, a significantly higher percentage than those with good (7.1 percent) or excellent (4.9 percent) hearing. Those most likely to experience depression were aged 18 to 69. The NIDCD study is hardly the only one to pinpoint this correlation; researchers in Italy and Australia have reported similar results.

Making matters worse is the fact that people with hearing loss in American Fork are likely to withdraw from social activities. Social isolation worsens depression, so this increases their risk. The key is recognizing the symptoms of depression early.

Depression often manifests itself with feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and while these are the most common outward signs, they aren’t the only ones. Less obvious symptoms include fatigue, irritability, a loss of appetite, concentration difficulties and loss of interest in activities and hobbies that usually bring joy. It often takes a close friend or family member to notice these types of behavioral changes.

Hearing Aids can Help Treat Depression

The earlier you receive treatment for hearing loss, the less likely you are to experience depression. Your American Fork audiologist believes the following signs, established by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, are useful in determining the possibility of hearing loss:

  • Difficulty understanding speech, especially in the presence of background noise.
  • The individual isolates him- or herself from social gatherings and public situations.
  • They watch television or listen to music at volume levels others find uncomfortable.
  • They often ask people to repeat themselves.

Any of these should prompt you to schedule a hearing evaluation with an American Fork audiologist as soon as possible.

If hearing loss is causing depression, treatment might be as simple as turning on your hearing aids. Researchers at the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics found that every patient they studied who wore hearing aids showed a significant decline in negative psychosocial and cognitive conditions within 90 days. To reduce your risk of depression, be sure to wear your hearing aids regularly. If you have avoided purchasing them for whatever reason, you are strongly urged to reconsider. Depression is a widespread ailment with serious consequences; avoiding it will only lead to worse health long-term.

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