Check Your Hearing
Washington, DC, October 6, 2016—Many factors contribute to good mental health, and addressing hearing loss is one of them, says the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), which is raising awareness of the link between untreated hearing loss and depression for National Depression Screening Day on October 6 and World Mental Health Day on October 10. BHI is urging people of all ages to include regular hearing tests as part of a healthy lifestyle to promote good mental health. Research shows that people with hearing loss who use hearing aids often have fewer depressive symptoms, greater social engagement, and improved quality of life.
BHI offers a free, quick and confidential online hearing check at www.BetterHearing.org to help people determine if they need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing healthcare professional.
What do we know about untreated hearing loss and mood?
Research shows that when left unaddressed, hearing loss is frequently associated with other physical, mental, and emotional health issues that diminish quality of life.
Most noteworthy, a growing body of research shows a link between unaddressed hearing loss and depression.
A 2014 national study found that hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of depression in adults of all ages and is most pronounced in 18 to 69 year olds. An Italian study found that working adults—35 to 55 years of age—with untreated mild to moderate age-related hearing loss were more prone to depression, anxiety, and interpersonal sensitivity than those without hearing problems. And a Johns Hopkins study found that older adults with hearing loss were 57 percent more likely to have deep episodes of stress, depression or bad mood than their peers with normal hearing.
In light of these findings, some experts believe hearing care professionals have an important role to play in helping to promote good mental health among people with hearing loss.
Happiness and hearing aids: Is there a connection?
Years of BHI research have shown that getting a hearing test and using professionally fitted hearing aids when recommended by a hearing healthcare professional is an important way for people with hearing loss to ease the stress associated with intensive listening and to safeguard their quality of life and mental wellbeing.
Other researchers have published similar findings.
An Italian study that appeared in Geriatrics & Gerontology International, for example, concluded that the benefits of digital hearing aids in relation to depressive symptoms, general health and social interactivity, but also in the caregiver-patient relationship, were clearly shown. In fact, reduction in depressive symptoms and improved quality of life at statistically significant levels were observed early on with the use of hearing aids.
A much earlier study—conducted by Cynthia D. Mulrow, MD, MSc, and co-investigators and published in the Annals of Internal Medicineyears before the most recent advancements in hearing aid technologies—concluded that hearing loss is associated with important adverse effects on the quality of life of elderly persons—effects that are reversible with hearing aids.
For more information on World Mental Health Day, visit http://www.who.int/mental_health/world-mental-health-day/en/. For more information on National Depression Screening Day, or to take the online screening any day of the year, visit www.mentalhealthscreening.org.
5 Feel-Good Reasons to Get a Hearing Test
BHI research shows that addressing hearing loss frequently improves quality of life. Here are some of the feel-good benefits that many people with hearing loss who use hearing aids enjoy.
- A positive outlook: Research shows that people with hearing loss who use hearing aids are more likely to be optimistic and feel engaged in life. Many even say they feel more confident and better about themselves as a result of using hearing aids.
- Living fully: People with hearing difficulty who use hearing aids get more pleasure in doing things and are even more likely to exercise and meet up with friends to socialize, BHI research shows. In fact, most people who currently wear hearing aids say it has helped their overall quality of life.
- Stronger relationships: Most people who currently wear hearing aids say it has a positive effect on their relationships and ability to participate in group activities. And they’re more likely to have a strong social network.
- Improved communications: The majority of hearing aid users say that it helps their overall ability to communicate effectively in most situations. In fact, recent advances in technology have made the listening experience for hearing aid users better than ever. As many as 91 percent of all owners of the newest hearing aids—those purchased in the last year—are satisfied with their hearing aids. And as many as 90 percent of people who purchased their hearing aid within the last four years say they’d recommend a hearing aid to a friend or family member.
- A can-do attitude at work and at home: People with hearing loss who use hearing aids are more likely to tackle problems actively, research shows. And most hearing aid users in the workforce say it has helped their performance on the job. In fact, earlier BHI research found that using hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss. People with untreated hearing loss can lose as much as $30,000 in income annually, the study found.