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Hearing deeply shapes how we navigate daily life. It is essential for communication which is central to relationships and social engagement. So when hearing is impaired, these areas of life can be significantly impacted. Untreated hearing loss often strains relationships as well as leads to social withdrawal, contributing to depressive symptoms like loneliness. Not only does loneliness affect mental health and wellness but it can increase the risk for early mortality. In fact, studies show that prolonged loneliness can increase the risk of dying by 26%! Fortunately, there are effective ways hearing loss is treated which alleviates symptoms, increases hearing capacity, and boosts health.
Hearing Loss & Depressive Symptoms
Hearing loss takes a toll on hearing health in various ways. It strains communication which is key for relationships and social engagement. This can lead to the development of depressive symptoms including loneliness, isolation, and stress. Extensive research shows that hearing loss increases the risk of experiencing depressive symptoms. This includes the following two studies:
- Study Published in JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surgery: this study involved researchers collecting and analyzing data which included results from hearing tests as well as responses from a questionnaire that assessed depressive symptoms for 18,318 participants. Researchers found that the prevalence of moderate to severe depression was
- 4.9% for individuals reporting excellent hearing
- 11.4% for people who reported a little to greater hearing loss
These findings highlight that people with hearing loss were more than twice as likely to
experience depressive symptoms compared to those without it.
- Study Published by Clear Living. 3,767 participants were surveyed on the major life areas that were most impacted by hearing loss. Key findings include:
- 89% of participants cited social and personal issues as the greatest impact of hearing loss
- 58% of people said that their relationships suffered
- 39% of participants reported that their conversations declined or were harder to follow
- 30% found watching TV difficult while 35% struggled being out with friends in public places.
This study highlights the toll hearing loss can have on everyday activities as well as
Difficulty spending quality time, having conversations with others, and participating in shared activities are critical for social connection. So this strain as well as social withdrawal can easily lead to loneliness and other depressive symptoms.
How Treatment Lessenes Loneliness
Treating hearing loss offers countless benefits including improving hearing health but also lessening loneliness by supporting connection. Hearing loss is most commonly treated with hearing aids. These are electronic devices that are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound. Not only does this alleviate symptoms, but it also maximizes hearing capacity which strengthens communication.
Research shows that hearing aids reduce depressive symptoms. This includes a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology that investigated how wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants impacted depressive symptoms in older adults. The study involved assessing 113 participants, ages 50 and older who wore hearing aids or cochlear implants. Participants were evaluated after wearing their hearing devices after 6 months and 1 year. Researchers found that among hearing aid users, depressive symptoms improved by:
- 28% after 6 months of wearing hearing aids
- depressive symptoms continued decreasing and decreased by another 16% after one year.
These findings highlight a correlation between hearing aid use and reduced depressive symptoms. It also shows that the longer hearing aids are worn, the more reduced depressive symptoms become.
Hearing aids allow people to navigate daily life with greater ease and confidence. People are better able to have conversations, spend quality time, and participate fully in activities. This enriches social interaction and improves relationships. These benefits boost mental health and wellness which directly lessons depressive symptoms like loneliness.
Prioritize Your Hearing Health Today
You can prioritize your hearing health with one simple step: schedule an appointment for a hearing test. Hearing tests involve a painless process that measures your hearing capacities in both ears and identifies any hearing loss. Once your hearing needs are identified, your hearing healthcare provider is able to develop a treatment plan that meets those needs. Treating hearing loss transforms health and wellness, allowing people to reconnect and live life fully. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation!