In recent decades, experts have concluded that hearing loss is a much more complex health concern than we ever realized before. Sure, it affects communication, may require a little more planning for social outings and introduces us to hearing healthcare providers and all they can do, but it’s also linked to more pressing concerns. One of those connections is depression.
What is depression?
Depression is so much more than just feeling a little sad. It affects every aspect of your life, making it difficult to do even the most basic tasks from working to just getting out of bed. It is generally defined as “a mood disorder that causes distressing symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.” Symptoms are present almost every day for at least two weeks.
There are several types of depression, but the two main types are:
- Major Depression – this lasts at least two weeks; maybe a one-time event but generally happens more than once during the person’s lifetime.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder – this lasts for at least two years; there may be episodes of major depressions along with periods of less severe symptoms.
While you do not have to have hearing loss to develop depressive symptoms, researchers are finding that hearing loss puts you at a higher risk of developing depression.
The hearing loss depression connection
Several studies over recent years have confirmed a link between untreated hearing loss and depression. The most recent went one step further, finding that the greater the hearing loss, the higher the risk of having depressive symptoms.
The study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, analyzed health data from 5,239 individuals over age 50. Each person had both a hearing evaluation and depression screening.
The team found that those with mild hearing loss were nearly twice as likely to have symptoms of depression than those with normal hearing. Those with severe hearing loss were over four times as likely to have symptoms.
While the researchers confirmed that additional studies are needed to prove the link definitively, it is hard to deny that there does seem to be a connection.
How to prevent depression
Findings like these underline just how important it is to get regular hearing evaluations and treatment for hearing loss. Hearing aids may do more than just help you hear the world around you; they could help prevent depression.
If you’re treating your hearing loss but would like to do more to prevent developing depressive symptoms, tips like these can help:
- Eat a nutritious and balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
- Reduce stress
- Include exercise in your daily routine
- Follow good sleep hygiene practices for better sleep
- Maintain relationships with friends and family
If you believe you may be experiencing signs of depression, contact your physician or trusted health professional to get help. If you have any questions about hearing aids, smart hearing aids or about your personal experience with hearing loss, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Autumn Oak Speech, Voice & Hearing. We are happy to help!